Zendejas not guilty of raping woman

Updated: March 11, 2009, 1:45 AM ET
Associated Press

POMONA, Calif. -- Former NFL place-kicker Tony Zendejas was acquitted Tuesday of drugging a woman at his San Dimas restaurant and raping her.

Zendejas, who played 11 seasons in the NFL before retiring in 1995, was initially charged with four felony sex charges -- two of which were dismissed during the trial. Defense attorney Timothy Younger said the jury deliberated 90 minutes before acquitting his client of the remaining charges in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

"I'm not surprised at all," Younger told The Associated Press. He said prosecutors had little evidence against his client but "seemed to decide they wanted to move forward with this case no matter how much evidence we showed them of Tony's innocence."

Prosecutors accused Zendejas of drugging the woman in January 2008 with two alcoholic drinks called "heart stoppers," taking her to a hotel room and raping her. The victim testified she woke up in the hotel room naked and alone and did not remember anything after consuming the drinks.

"There was more than enough evidence," Deputy District Attorney Rouman Ebrahim said. He acknowledged his case was weakened because the woman waited 20 hours before going to the hospital to check what was in her system. Ebrahim said evidence of "heart stoppers" leaves the system in 12 hours or less.

"This case is a good example for [date rape victims] to report it as soon as possible," Ebrahim said.

Zendejas, who was arrested in July, was acquitted of rape by intoxication and sodomy by intoxication.

The former kicker appeared at his bar after the verdict and celebrated with family members and customers.

"I will never understand why they would even arrest me," Zendejas told KTTV-TV. "I'm devastated this thing ever happened."

Younger said the jury may have been swayed by a date rape expert's testimony that there was little evidence of rape.

Zendejas claimed he had consensual sex with the woman and had known her for several months. Younger said the accusations have hurt the former kicker's reputation and that his business "has been suffering tremendously by the adverse publicity."

"It's been a nightmare for the whole family," Younger said.

Zendejas played for the Los Angeles Rams, Houston Oilers, Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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