A Santa Clara County jury today found that a pair of former De Anza College baseball players are not liable for the alleged gang rape of a 17-year-old girl at a house party in 2007. The jury of six men and six women found that there was no negligence on the part of the defendants, Christopher Knopf and Kenneth Chadwick, and they will not have to pay damages to the victim.
The verdict was read shortly before 9:30 a.m. today following several days of deliberation. The civil trial came four years after the victim, who is now 21, claimed she was gang-raped by a group of baseball players at a party in unincorporated San Jose on March 3, 2007. Three young women, identified as Lauren Bryeans, Lauren Chief Elk and April Grolle, pushed their way into the room where the victim was allegedly being assaulted and took her to the hospital. Afterward, both Chief Elk and Grolle publicly described finding the vomiting semi-conscious girl in a room surrounded by eight men with one allegedly between her legs. Eight members of the team were suspended due to team policy violations after the incident came to light.
The case was being tried in civil court before Judge Aaron Persky. Knopf and Chadwick claimed that the sex was consensual. Another six men were also listed in the lawsuit when the trial began in late February, but they have all settled with the plaintiff or had the lawsuit dismissed. In 2007, then-District Attorney Dolores Carr decided to not file criminal charges in the case, citing insufficient evidence, a decision that outraged some in the community. Carr also asked the state attorney general’s office to investigate the case, and that office agreed that there was not enough evidence.
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