Crime

Ex-UM players in campus rape case allowed to enter program for first-time offenders

JaWand Blue
JaWand Blue

Two former University of Miami football players won’t do jail time after accusations they raped an intoxicated female student inside a campus dorm room.

Instead, ex-linebackers JaWand Blue and Alexander Figueroa — who were immediately kicked off the team and expelled from the school — on Wednesday agreed to undergo sex-offender treatment classes and complete 100 hours of community service.

If they complete the pre-trial diversion program for first-time offenders and stay trouble-free for nine months, prosecutors will drop the sexual battery charges against them.

The reason for the deal: the victim, also a campus athlete, did not want to undergo the “devastating” experience of testifying, prosecutor Laura Adams told a judge Wednesday.

“The victim in this case, although never wavering from her insistence that the defendants sexually assaulted her against her will, did not believe it would be in her best interest to have to undergo the type of questioning [and] cross-examination that would essentially amount to an attack on her character should the case go to trial,” Adams wrote in a final memo on the case. “She very much wanted to put this matter behind her, and focus on her life as a college student-athlete.”

The case’s resolution comes amid renewed national scrutiny on campus rapes nationwide, and the difficulty in prosecuting such cases.

In the most notorious cases involving an athlete, Tallahassee prosecutors last year chose not to charge Florida State star quarterback Jameis Winston, saying they could not sufficiently prove allegations he raped a female student during an on-campus encounter.

The facts in the University of Miami case resulted in arrests.

Coral Gables police in July arrested Blue and Figueroa after the girl told detectives that the linebackers assaulted her in a dorm room after a night of drinking.

According to the newly released state attorney’s memo, the girl attended a gathering with various school athletes, including Blue and Figueroa, at the school’s University Village. “Alcohol was served at this gathering, despite the fact that most of the students there were underage,” the memo said.

Later that night, they wound up at Mr. Moe’s, a Coconut Grove bar popular with students that still served them alcohol despite their age. She had drunk so heavily “that she became physically ill,” the memo said.

The three were later dropped off at their campus dorm, where the woman passed out in Figueroa’s room. She recalled waking up to the men assaulting her despite her requests to stop, Adams wrote.

The former football players later insisted the encounter was consensual.

Young women in these cases are “truly put in a Catch-22 scenario,” Adams wrote. “On the one hand, she was too drunk to give knowing, voluntary and intelligent consent to have sex with the offenders — but because of her intoxicated state, she is unable to remember the exact details of what occurred or to clearly articulate why [or} how she did not give consent.”

Hoping to avoid defense attacks on her character at a trial, the young woman agreed to the pre-trial intervention program.

Figueroa and Blue must agree not to try to re-enroll in the university and cannot ever return to campus.

“In so doing, she hoped that she would never have to encounter them again while she attended college, and hoped that by forcing them into a sex-offender program, they would better understand the boundaries of appropriate sexual behavior and never do this to another young woman,” Adams wrote.

Blue, a former three-star recruit from West Boca Raton High, played in two games last season and registered one tackle. He finished the spring as the backup middle linebacker behind Denzel Perryman.

Figueroa, the son of military parents from Virginia, played in nine games last season and made two starts, registering 17 tackles. He ended the spring listed as a co-starter at outside linebacker along with Thurston Armbrister.

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