Sexual Assault on College Campus

A former Utah State University frat brother pleaded guilty yesterday to two cases of sexual assault that took place on and near the college campus.

Stealing bases

Photo by: Valeria C★Preisler

Photo by: Valeria C★Preisler

27 year old Jason Brian Relopez was arrested after two women came forward stating that on separate incidents Relopez had sexually forced himself on them. Both women made out with Relopez voluntarily, however he was the only one tolerable with taking things to the next level. One incident happened in 2014 during a private study night while the other happened in 2015 at a frat party at the Sigma Chi House.

Marked for life

Relopez, a former student at Utah State University, pleaded guilty to a plea deal that reduced his charges from aggravated rape and sexual assault to attempted rape and forcible sexual abuse. Although the settled charges don’t save him from a first degree felony, there is a chance he may get probation instead. Either way, he will be on the sex offender registry for the remainder of his life.

No means “no”

When engaging in sexual relations with another person, it is always advised to get verbal consent first. The victim from the 2014 incident did state that she told Relopez she did not want to have sex with him. Regarding the sexual assault that took place at the frat house in 2015 however, the victim never told Relopez “no” but she also did not give him consent to make sexual advances on her. Both instances can be considered sexual assault because in both cases, consent was not given. While a verbal “no” is a clear dispute to consent, not saying anything which could happen due to fear or alcohol or drug abuse, should be considered a negative as well.

Sexual assault at college

Photo by: Miles Gehm

Photo by: Miles Gehm

Sexual assault is a serious issue and college campuses are not immune to the problem. There have been recent statistics that state over 20 percent of young college students have been victims of sexual assault. Although a high number of those sexual assaults on campus are noted to be from serial rapists with malicious intent, there are occasional instances when there could be grave miscommunications that end in charges. College parties where young adults mingle with excess amounts of alcohol are times when things could get out of hand unintentionally. Some ways to avoid such horrific errors are:

• Both parties should be clear on their intentions and observe the other person for hints of hesitation.

• Reduce the amount of alcoholic beverages consumed. When people overdrink, they are less likely to read situations correctly.

• If alcohol is on the menu, have a designated sober friend to attend parties with. The person not drinking can help distinguish if things are getting out of control.

• Keep a drug free party zone. Date rape drugs are given such a nickname due to the fact that it makes the other party unable to give consent, even if they voluntarily take the pill to begin with. On a related note, discard unattended drinks.

• Always get consent. Always.

Sexual offenses without consent

Utah code 76-5-406 states that sexual offenses are “without consent of the victim [if] the victim expresses lack of consent through words or conduct; the actor overcomes the victim through ( . . . ) physical force or violence; the actor is able to overcome the victim through concealment or by the element of surprise; the actor coerces the victim to submit by threatening to retaliate ( . . . ); the actor knows the victim is unconscious, unaware that the act is occurring, or physically unable to resist; ( . . .) the actor intentionally impaired the power of the victim to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering any substance without the victim’s knowledge; ( . . . )”

Time of your life, or away for life

College is supposed to be the time of your life. Sexual assault charges such as rape or forcible sexual abuse can bring mean the rest of your life in jail. For legal aid regarding sexual offense charges, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor

56 year old St. George Utah resident James Allen Matlock was arrested this weekend for unlawful sexual conduct with a 16-17 year old minor.

Indecent liberties

Photo by: Washington County Sheriff

Photo by: Washington County Sheriff

Unlawful sexual conduct can be regarding one or more inappropriate circumstances, but not necessarily sex. According to Matlock’s booking report, his charges of unlawful sexual conduct were listed as statute: 76-5-401.2(2)(IV) which is defined by Utah Code as a crime where the suspect “touches the anus, buttocks, or any part of the genitals of the minor, or touches the breast of a female minor, or otherwise takes indecent liberties with the minor […].”

Unlawful sexual conduct in a dressing room

The charges stem from an incident that happened during the summer at a store in the Red Cliffs Mall. A 17 year old teenage girl was shopping in Victoria’s Secret, a store known for its provocative lingerie, when she entered the dressing room along with the suspect. It is unknown whether or not the victim knew 56 year old James Allen Matlock was accompanying her into the dressing room, but she stated she did not give consent for any unlawful sexual conduct to take place.

Charges for touching an older teenager inappropriately

Had the teenager given consent, as some older teenagers do, Matlock would still have charges of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16-17 year old because of the age gap between him and the teenager. Utah code 76-5-401.2 states that an adult who is more than seven years older than the teenager may face charges for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

Know the age gap

With the almost 40 year age gap between Matlock and the victim, there wasn’t that gray area that can happen between young adults and teenagers that look older than they are. However, if a 24 year old is dating someone that looks 19 but is actually only 16, they could face charges of unlawful sexual conduct unless they were unaware of the teenager’s age. The state allows some wiggle room with this law regarding 16-17 year olds, but only up to 10 years (7 years if the age of the teenager was known). The safest bet is to know the age of the person with whom you are romantically involved, and to stay within the lawful age limits to prevent any possible charges of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. For those who are facing charges associated to relations with a minor, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Utah Teacher Pleads Guilty for Forcible Sexual Abuse

35 year old Brianne Altice, the Utah teacher charged with having sex with her male students, has pleaded guilty to 3 counts of forcible sexual abuse, each a second degree felony. Although she was likely incapable of forcibly holding down her victims, her stewardship over them deemed her actions emotionally abusive. She will appear in court for sentencing on May 28.

Photo by: Todd Petrie

Photo by: Todd Petrie

Breaking the Teacher/Student trust

Altice was in a position of trust and betrayed that when she engaged in sexual misconduct with students in her care. Altice was an English Teacher at a high school in Davis County Utah since 2012.  She was first arrested in late 2013 after one of her students came forward disclosing their sexual relationship. After this boy testified against her, two more male students also came forward with allegations. Even if the 16-17 year old boys had consented to their relationship, because of her being in a position of authority over them, the charges of forcible sexual abuse would still stand.

Her Future

Altice’s guilty plea was essentially part of an agreement to dismiss the 11 other counts against her. For her deal, she is facing up to 45 years in prison. Had she not taken the deal, her fate would be unknown as she would have had 4 separate trials. Although her future may seem grim, she is now only going to serve time for 3 charges of forcible sexual abuse instead of the original 14 including rape charges which would have unquestionably landed her life in prison. If you are facing charges that you will undoubtedly be found guilty for, a good criminal defense attorney can find opportunities to lessen the charges against you and decrease your time spent behind bars.