Attorney makes controversial comments about ‘regret’ at hearing for suspect in rapes at USU frat house

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LOGAN, Utah -- A Logan man is accused of multiple rapes at a Utah State University fraternity house, and at a court hearing held Thursday his attorney made comments that drew a reaction from advocates for survivors of sexual assault.

Jason Brian Relopez faced a judge in a preliminary hearing Thursday, where his attorney sparked controversy with his defense.

There was a lot of emotion in the courtroom as two women who said Relopez attacked them told their story of being raped in the fraternity house. They testified Relopez was a popular guy in the Greek Community, but they said he turned into a demon.

But it's the defense’s strategy that has rape recovery advocates disturbed.

“Regret the next day of doing something stupid when you're drunk doesn't make rape, and it doesn't make aggravated sexual assault,” said Shannon Demler, the Defense Attorney for Relopez.

Holly Mullen, Director of the Rape Recovery Center in SLC, took issue with that.

“You can't tear a victim down to this point and dehumanize and tear this victim apart this way,” Mullen said.

Mullen said it's those type of arguments that, to her, not only show a weak case but also victimize women more than they already are.

“We still have a lot of mythology out in our community about who is responsible for rape,” Mullen said. “The perpetrator is the only person responsible for rape, and it makes no difference what the victim did, wore or said.”

Both of the women said they were at the Sigma Chi Fraternity House just off Utah State University's campus when the assaults happened between October of 2014 and July of this year.

After an initial complaint from one of the women, police were able to identify two other potential victims and get further information and evidence.

One of the women told the judge Relopez asked her if she wanted to, “go all the way.” She said "no" three times, but he wouldn’t stop.

The second woman testified Relopez raped her multiple times. She said she was slapped and choked and woke up the next day covered in scratches and bruises.

“This says to me that the woman or women involved in this case are very, very determined and they want to see justice and they want to see closure," Mullen said. "I applaud them for sticking with it. It's a big challenge for victims."

The judge found there is enough evidence to hold Relopez over for trial on both counts.

Relopez is in the Cache County Jail and has been since he was arrested in July. A bail hearing is set for August 25.

11 comments

  • bob

    If I’m on the jury I expect PROOF. “He said vs. She said” isn’t proof. It’s allegation. It’s a reason to investigate, not to convict.

  • DESCONOCIDO

    Women don’t leave their purses, keys or babies unattended in an unlocked car because of the risks involved. Perhaps they should think twice before getting drunk and making themselves vulnerable to the risk of attack in a frat house?

    • Desconocido

      Two totally unrelated things. You’re saying women should stop getting drunk to lower their risk of getting raped? What about the millions of other women who were sober and raped – what is your advice for them? I guess every time a tragedy happens to someone we should just say “Welp! It’s your fault for not taking more precautions.”

      • DESCONOCIDO

        You know better than that DESCONOCIDO (aka Bob). Intelligent people don’t walk down a dark alley in Detroit at night and they don’t expose themselves to any other needless risks. There are animals out there waiting for a chance to take advantage of those who put themselves in vulnerable situations.

    • Todd G.

      Victim-blaming. Classy.

      This should help, though you’re probably too dense to understand.

      “Mr. Smith, you were held up at gunpoint on the corner of First and Main?”
      “Yes.”
      “Did you struggle with the robber?”
      “No.”
      “Why not?”
      “He was armed.”
      “Then you made a conscious decision to comply with his demands rather than resist?”
      “Yes.”
      “Did you scream? Cry out?”
      “No, I was afraid.”
      “I see. Have you ever been held up before?”
      “No.”
      “Have you ever GIVEN money away?”
      “Yes, of course.”
      “And you did so willingly?”
      “What are you getting at?”
      “Well, let’s put it like this, Mr. Smith. You’ve given money away in the past. In fact, you have quite a reputation for philanthropy. How can we be sure that you weren’t CONTRIVING to have your money taken from you by force?”
      “Listen, if I wanted –”
      “Never mind. What time did this holdup take place, Mr. Smith?”
      “About 11:00 P.M.”
      “You were out on the street at 11:00 P.M.? Doing what?”
      “Just walking.”
      “Just walking? You know that it’s dangerous being out on the street that late at night. Weren’t you aware that you could have been held up?”
      “I hadn’t thought about it.”
      “What were you wearing at the time, Mr. Smith?”
      “Let’s see…a suit. Yes, a suit.”
      “An EXPENSIVE suit?”
      “Well yes. I’m a successful lawyer, you know.”
      “In other words, Mr. Smith, you were walking around the streets late at night in a suit that practically advertised the fact that you might be good target for some easy money, isn’t that so? I mean, if we didn’t know better, Mr. Smith, we might even think that you were asking for this to happen, mightn’t we?”

      • DESCONOCIDO

        Wise women don’t give rapists the opportunity, and wise women don’t get drunk at a frat house. Refined women don’t even get drunk anywhere. Probably why the percentage of refined women who get raped is so much lower.

  • NathanDaSkate

    The arguments I am seeing here are invalid, no woman asks to be raped. The things here stating that well “if they weren’t there in the first place, this wouldn’t have happened are totally Irrelevant . just because she was there and had a few drinks doesn’t mean that they deserved to be raped. Rapes will happen no matter when precautions are taken. The Neanderthal mentality is taking over again.

    • DESCONOCIDO

      NATHANDASKATE
      No woman asks to be raped. Wise women take the appropriate precautions to make sure that doesn’t happen. Getting drunk and passing out in a frat house just doesn’t sound very wise to me.

  • LAKER66641010

    Desconocido makes a good point. Flashing a big roll of money in a bar at night in Harlem is just asking for trouble. A girl who drinks in a frat house until she passes out offers a unnecessary temptation to young men who’s own judgement is clouded by alcohol. Just common sense ladies.

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