Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong and Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly hosted a press conference Wednesday morning, revealing the completion of an investigation into an allegation of rape at the home of some Husker players.
Below is a transcript of the press conference (Watch the video in the player above)"
Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong
"Good morning everyone, we wanted to wind up trying to bring everybody up to date in regards to an alleged sexual assault that was reported to the Lincoln Police Department in the early morning hours of Nov. 15. The victim had gone to Bryan Medical Center West and the Lincoln Police Department ultimately became contacted in regards to an alleged sexual assault that had occurred in early morning hours of Nov. 15.
The assault was alleged to have occurred at the residence of Mr. Tommy Armstrong Jr., Mr. Jesse Foster and Mr. Jordan Westerkamp. During the course of our investigation, everyone that was at the residence at the time of the alleged report of a sexual assault has been contacted and interviewed regarding this. The police department stayed in constant contact with the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office during the whole investigation into this matter. And all of our reports have been forwarded to the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office. We have completed our investigation into this matter and no arrests will be made in regards to this. We will not be releasing any names of any individuals that became a part of this investigation since no arrests are being made and we recognize that many times victims of sexual assaults are afraid to report these incidents. We want to be respectful to victims of sexual assaults to protect their identities. I will now turn it over to Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly."
Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly
"We will not be filing charges with regards to this investigation. Filing it would require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had occurred. That simply is not there. We’ve been working with the police, as the chief stated, as the investigation has progressed. So we’ve been talking to the investigators and reading the reports as the investigation’s gone on. That’s why we’re able to make a decision today. The decision is simply an evaluation that we make when we compare the facts as we know them with the elements that we would have to prove in front of a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. That simply is not there and ethically I cannot move forward."
"Like I said, if there are a few questions, we may be able to answer, but we’re not – we don’t have an awful lot of questions that we’re going to wind up taking at this particular point in time."
Q: Is there an indication that something did occur that was very questionable?
Peschong: "Yes, that is correct."
Q: Just not enough to proceed forward in the legal process?
Peschong: "That is correct"
Q: What more would you need in order to move forward legally? Would there be any [unintelligible] that could come that would allow you guys to move forward or is it beyond a reasonable doubt that there’s not enough there?
Peschong: "There is not enough there. There’s not enough there to prove a crime."
Q: Have you been in contact with the victim over this?
Q: Was a rape kit performed?
Peschong: "It’s my understanding that there was a rape kit performed."
Q: What’s the victim’s response to [unintellible] charges?
Peschong: "I don’t have any comment on that."
Q: Can you say was she cooperative? Or was she somewhat in anyway reluctant to talk to the police?
Peschong: "She was very cooperative with the police."
Q: Why have a news conference to release this? And then, why release it now?
Peschong: "We’re releasing it now because our investigation is completed. We finished up our investigation yesterday afternoon. And after that particular point in time, we just didn’t want to wind up delaying it. We know that it’s an issue that everyone has been paying close attention to. And we wanted to wind up since our investigation was done, we wanted to get that information out there."
Q: Does the fact that this happened at the home of some Husker players play into account in any of this as far as the investigation?
Peschong: "Not with us, but with the media evidently."
Q: How many people were at the home that night?
Peschong: "I believe there were six."
Q: That includes the three in the residence, the complainant, and two others?
Peschong: "I don’t have any comment on that."
Q: Do you know what was taking place prior to the incident? Was there a party going on? Or why were they there?
Peschong: "I don’t know. Everyone has their own interpretation as to a party. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a party. It is my understanding that the football players had come home from the football game and some individuals wound up coming over to their residence. But some people may interpret that as being a party."
Q: So were the football players that were home in the residence including the homeowners?
Peschong: "I don’t have any comment on that."
Q: Did this come down to one person’s story against another person’s story [unintelligible]?
Peschong: "No comment on that."
Q: Did the victim’s story remain consistent throughout?
Q: What type of evidence was used to look at this case?
Kelly: "Forensic evidence wasn’t an issue here. Otherwise we might not be talking to you today. And that’s because the identity of the people involved who were there was not in question. So the evidence consisted of interviews, detailed interviews from everybody who had any information about what went on. It also included two or three interviews on some of the individuals where the police went back after a period of time and talked to them again."
Q: The University of Nebraska has their procedure for addressing sexual assault complaints under – have you been part of that developing that with them? Also, is there any information that the university gets that goes beyond the public record so they may be addressing this administratively in their own way?
Kelly: "You’ll have to talk to Title Nine individuals. I’ve had some conversations with them, but I haven’t given them any information about this case up to this point."
Q: Doesn’t matter, has that protocol been developed with the university?
Kelly: "There’s a protocol. There’s an MOU. Frankly, I haven’t pulled it out to see exactly where we are at this juncture."
Q: So you would be awaiting a request from them?
Kelly: "And it’s a matter of who’s the records keeper of a report. I may have access to something that’s in the police database, but that doesn’t make me the record keeper. But in any event…"
Peschong: "I don’t have any comment."
Q: Would you say, at one point we were told this was a case of consensual sex and now we are in trouble. Did this come down to a call whether this was consensual or not?
Kelly: "I’m just not commenting on the facts, Paul. And it’s a follow-up to something Andrew said. The ordinary case where there weren’t individuals who are publicly known, where there’s been simply a report taken, and an investigation and no charges wouldn’t result in a press conference like this. So we’re trying to, as much as we can, terminate this investigation in a way we otherwise would, which would, generally, there wouldn’t be anything in the papers. There wouldn’t be anything in the news. No charges and there wouldn’t be a press conference."
Q: Is there a chance that if others, another comes forward [unintelligible] closed, period?
Peschong: "That’s always a possibility. If new evidence comes about on any particular case we always take a look at any new evidence."
Q: Do you have any comment about the department being interviewed and apparently being told early on you have nothing to worry about?
Peschong: "I don’t have any information about that other than what I’ve read in the news media."
Q: Are you going to be doing any follow-up questions about that with your officers to see if that was something conveyed to the people involved?
Q: What is your relationship with the university in cases like this? I mean, you have no communications about the facts or, I mean, did they want to know? Did they ask you about where the investigation was or anything like that? Is that changed from years past?
Peschong: "I would tend to say that we really haven’t had much contact with the university, as well, other than we’d let them know yesterday. as we did with you. that we would be doing a press conference this morning regarding the investigation. I don’t believe they have any more information that what you got yesterday.
Q: What is LPD’s clearance rate on sex assault investigations?
Peschong: "What is ours? It’s pretty darn low. And let me explain that a little bit, OK? I wouldn’t be surprised if we have one of the lowest clearance rates on sexual assaults in the country. And one of those reasons is that we want to be as open as we possibly can with victims of sexual assaults. You can report being sexually assaulted to the Lincoln Police Department, not give us your name and just go onto our website and give us the information. We would rather have the information and know something about someone who may be a perpetrator out there victimizing females and sexually assaulting them so we can identify patterns and trends, and things of that nature. We also encourage them, if they choose to do so, to go to the hospital and have a rape kit done. And they can remain totally anonymous on that. And then the hospital will contact the police department. We will pick up the rape kit and tag it in as evidence so if at a later point in time the victim chooses to come forward and provide more information, then we may have some corroborating evidence at that particular point in time. I’m not aware of other police departments that do that. And so we try to be as broad and as inclusive as we possibly can to get this information so individuals that are becoming victims or there are perpetrators out there that we can wind up trying to be aware of this particular information. So when we do those things, obviously, we’re not clearing those particular cases."
Q: So victims can forward, but a case doesn’t necessarily have to be made?
Peschong: "That is correct."
Q: At the start of the press conference, Roger asked the question if there was the appearance that something that was very questionable happened. And your response was, ”That is correct.” I just want to make sure that you feel like that is the best way to characterize what occurred, that something very questionable occurred, that you want to characterize in some other way?
Peschong: "I mean I believe the victim. We had a report of an alleged sexual assault. We conducted an investigation into this matter, and with the investigators, and with the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office, we do not feel that we have the elements of a crime that we can move forward with."
Q: If you didn’t have waiting for forensic evidence and your interviews were done fairly quickly, what did take so long? Why did it take so long with this investigation?
Peschong: "We wanted to make sure that we were thorough. We looked at every different angle that we could potentially look at. We spent a lot of time with the prosecutor’s office, our investigators, as well as what Joe had talked about. Some individuals were talked with again to make sure we had a good clear understanding. And things like that. So sometimes that takes time. You may talk with one particular person and they may give you a little bit of information that, oh, we didn’t ask that particular question of someone else. So you may have to wind up going back and clarifying some things."
Q: So when were all the interviews completed?
Peschong: "Well, I guess it depends on what you may call interviews. I’m just really basically saying that we concluded the investigation yesterday afternoon, or late morning yesterday."
Q: Chief, I’ll ask again. Was this matter a, when you say you believe the victim – was this a matter of a disagreement over consent between whomever the suspect is and whomever the complainant is? Was it a matter of disagreement over consent?
Peschong: "No comment."
Q: Of the other people that were at the home that were interviewed, everybody at the home that was interviewed, did anybody else corroborate or agree with the victim that her account was accurate?
Peschong: "No comment. OK, thank you very much."