(LEFT) Photo from Oregon State Athletics. (RIGHT) Photo from Benton County Jail.
Editor’s Note: A previous edition of this article was formatted in a way that may have led readers to believe that the texts served on October 1 by the defense were the main reason the case was dismissed, which is not true. The article has been reformatted to reflect this.
The state of Oregon dismissed all criminal charges against former Oregon State Football player, and current student, Jordan Pace on Monday, Oct. 8. In a motion filed three days before, Senior Deputy District Attorney Amie Matusko said at this time there is “insufficient evidence to justify further prosecution.” Pace’s trial was previously scheduled for Oct. 15.
Pace was indicted by a grand jury last November on four counts: rape in the first degree, unlawful sexual penetration in the first degree, sodomy in the first degree and sexual abuse in the second degree. The offenses were said to have taken place in May 2017, according to court documents.
Janis Puracal and Andrew Lauersdorf, the attorneys who represented Pace’s accuser, said the proceedings were a “long and painful process for the victim.”
“(She) participated in the grand jury process, prepared herself to testify at trial and did everything prosecutors asked of her, only to learn one week before trial that the District Attorney has dismissed the indictment against Mr. Pace in an exercise of ‘prosecutorial discretion,’” Lauersdorf said via email. “The victim and her family are understandably saddened and disappointed by this decision, and ask that everyone respect their privacy as they work through this very painful experience.”
Citing legal and ethical restrictions, Matusko was unable to provide further factual details about the case beyond her previous statement regarding insufficient evidence.
According to Nicolas Ortiz, the attorney representing Pace, he and his client are pleased with the resolution of the criminal case. He said Pace denied the allegations from the beginning, and cooperated fully with the investigation.
“From our perspective, it was the right thing to do,” Ortiz said.
The most recent case development prior to the dismissal was when Ortiz served Matusko documents on Oct. 1 that consisted of a text conversation between the alleged victim and her friend.
In the conversation, according to documents reviewed by The Daily Barometer, Pace’s accuser reached out to a friend shortly after she and Pace had a sexual encounter. She largely discussed her concerns regarding the possibility of pregnancy. In the texts served, she did not make direct reference to being raped or that the sexual encounter with Pace had been non-consensual, but did express general distress about the situation.
These texts were brought to Ortiz’s attention during discovery, a pre-trial process in which both parties are given the chance to obtain evidence from the other.
Matusko, who filed the motion to dismiss, said the DA’s office takes all reports of sexual assault seriously. Since Jan. 1, 2017, the office has received 102 referrals for cases involving sex crimes. Eighteen of those cases were not filed by the state, including on the grounds of insufficient evidence, or the victim’s request for charges not to be filed.
“Most sexual assaults have no other witnesses other than the perpetrator and survivor,” Matusko said via email. “This means they come down to one person’s word against the other. This does not mean the case has insufficient evidence. I want to be clear that under Oregon law, one person’s word, if believed by a jury, is sufficient evidence to prove a crime. However, it can be difficult for a jury to convict without more evidence and then to convict a person of a felony. Ten of 12 jurors must find a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Matusko said the state of Oregon looks for ‘micro-corroboration’ of a survivor’s account, including text messages, DNA evidence or corroborating their timeline of events.
“Every sexual assault is different and every survivor’s experience unique,” Matsuko said via email.