Dominic Jones charged; three other players still suspects in incident
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota cornerback Dominic Jones was charged Monday with third-degree criminal sexual conduct after investigators said they found cell phone video that showed him in a sex act with a woman who was physically helpless.
Three other Gophers remain suspects in the case, which began in April after an 18-year-old woman said she had been raped at an apartment complex near campus.
"The charges represent a significant next step in this case," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. "The charge is a serious one."
Defensive end Alex Daniels, cornerback Keith Massey and running back E.J. Jones all were arrested and questioned in April. They have not been charged, but have been suspended ever since by coach Tim Brewster.
"No charges will be filed against those individuals today," Freeman said. "We're going to take this case one step at a time. Each of them remains suspects and we're going to continue to review each of the cases."
At a news conference, Freeman said the woman had come to the apartment complex with a friend and some Gopher players. He said she drank heavily with the players and had sex with E.J. Jones, Massey and Daniels before passing out.
Dominic Jones arrived later and had sex with the woman while Daniels recorded the video on his cell phone, Freeman said. The file had been deleted from the phone, but investigators recovered a part of it, he said.
"It's amazing what the forensics can do to reconstruct that," Freeman said. "That cell phone video, a picture is worth 1,000 words, and that video reflects what happened, at least at that point in time."
The woman's blood-alcohol level was estimated at least 0.30 percent by a doctor who reviewed police reports and witness statements, according to the criminal complaint. Stephen Smith, the doctor, based his estimate on her size and weight and descriptions of the amount of alcohol consumed.
That's a level, Freeman said, "in which motor function, including the ability to stand or walk, is lost." He said third-degree criminal sexual conduct occurs when a "victim is helpless. This is the textbook definition of helplessness when you're over .30."
Freeman said investigators also recovered DNA evidence connecting Dominic Jones to the woman.
Dominic Jones is one of the Gophers' best defensive players. He's started 20 straight games over the last two seasons and gained the reputation of a fiery competitor with a knack for making big hits despite being just 5 feet 8.
Last season Dominic Jones had two interceptions and 82 tackles, a high number for a cornerback. He also emerged as a standout kick returner, leading the Big Ten with a 23.0-yard average and returning one 99 yards for a touchdown against Cal.
He went to the same high school in Columbus, Ohio as Daniels and Massey, who is Dominic Jones' half-brother.
In a prepared statement, Brewster said Jones has been suspended. Athletic director Joel Maturi said the school is cooperating with the investigation.
"The conduct alleged in this case does not reflect the expectations and aspirations that the university has for its student-athletes or any of its students," Maturi said in the joint statement. "Accordingly, appropriate disciplinary action will be considered as we gain more information."
Dominic Jones' attorney, Earl Gray, declined comment.
Daniels' attorney, Mike Colich, declined to comment on the allegation that Daniels took the video, but said Daniels "absolutely" denies any wrongdoing. Colich also expressed frustration at the pace of the investigation.
"At this point I think I'm frustrated that the county attorney is indicating they haven't made a decision on whether they're going to charge him," Colich said. "[Daniels] is waiting to get his life back and get back to football. ... How many weeks and months has it been that they've had to investigate?"
E.J. Jones' attorney said Monday's news was more of a relief, despite Freeman's claims that his client is still a suspect.
"E.J. clearly went to bed early on in this situation so we're confident he's not going to get charged," attorney Jeff DeGree said. "We're confident he'll be back on the football field in the fall. ... [Freeman] has had three or four months to investigate this and we've always felt that E.J. wasn't going to get charged. That didn't happen today and I don't think it's going to happen in the future."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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