Charges dropped in sexual assault case

Jackson County Prosecutors recently dropped charges against Juan Contreras, the man accused of raping a UMKC student in Johnson Hall last February.

According to a statement released by the prosecutor’s office, prosecutors dropped charges last Monday after determining they were unable to provide a burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutors say they met with both the victim and two witnesses before coming to this conclusion.

When news of the assault hit campus last year, students reacted to the university’s response with protests, organizing a demonstration on campus that ended in Chancellor Leo Morton’s office. Since then, the university has met with students and held multiple listening sessions to address concerns.

Senior Ann Varner is disappointed with prosecution’s decision to drop charges.

“How can we not be upset with the decision to drop charges against this man?” asked Varner. “As a woman, it disgusts me and upsets me to know he will be getting off scot-free, while the victim will live with it the rest of her life.”

Despite firsthand accounts from two witnesses describing Contreras having sex with the victim while she was inebriated, video footage of Contreras carrying the victim into her residence hall over his shoulders and admittance by Contreras that he had sex with the victim, the lack of physical evidence makes the case hard to prosecute.

The news that Contreras will walk free comes at a time when guidelines for handling sexual assault on college campuses face major shakeups from the Department of Education.

“This sends a message to women everywhere that the prosecutors won’t even try to convict their rapist if they can’t ‘prove it without a doubt,’” said Varner.

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