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

Posted at 9:01 PM, Aug 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-06 23:47:45-04

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.