In an unannounced but unsurprising appearance before the Hall of Justice in San Jose today, Deputy District Attorney Jeff Rosen stood with Lauren Chief Elk to denounce what they said was a bad decision by the DA’s office not to test evidence recovered in the 2007 De Anza rape case.
Chief Elk was one of three female soccer players who reportedly pulled an intoxicated 17-year-old “Jane Doe” from a room at a party attended by members of the De Anza College baseball team, where she was allegedly being gang raped. They were joined today by other rape victims.
“I’m here with Jeff Rosen and these incredible women to say, it’s not too late,” said Chief Elk. “We demand the evidence be tested and also to say it’s not too late for some kind of justice.”
The press conference followed a May 16 Mercury News article that quoted deposition testimony from crime lab supervisor Lynne Burley in a civil suit filed by the victim. Burley testified that she was “informed by the district attorney’s office that no further testing was needed.”
According to the article, a hospital sheet, a comforter and clothing are among the untested articles. “Ms. Carr considers the case closed. I do not,” Rosen said. “When I’m elected district attorney, we will carefully and thoroughly review the case, examine and test all of the evidence, and decide whether to file charges.”
Spokespeople for the DA’s office have insisted that the case was thoroughly investigated, and that all evidence was tested. After announcing that the office would not press charges, a separate investigation by Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office reached the same conclusion in 2008.
The press conference participants were also far more forgiving of Sheriff Laurie Smith, whom they lauded as supportive. Another article appeared in the Merc last week indicating that sheriff’s deputies did not investigate the crime scene until 23 hours after the attack was reported. That story reported from internal documents that disciplinary action was attempted on a sergeant for failing to do his duties during the investigation, but that the matter was dropped.
Retired Lt. Pedro Contreras, who worked the case the afternoon after the report, told the paper he was outraged by the pace of the investigation and had to ask his supervisor repeatedly to send detectives to the crime scene. Smith, who is also up for re-election next week, admitted by statement that “in retrospect, there are some things that could have been handled differently,” but insisted the investigation was thorough.
Some reporters wondered aloud at the timing of the conference, two weeks after the appearance of the first Merc article about the evidence but one week before the June 8 election day. Chief Elk’s attorney Jim Hammer verified that he is a Rosen supporter, but that the timing of the press conference was due to his and Chief Elk’s schedule.
“They invited me to come and I’m here,” Rosen said afterward. “I have to be careful because I can’t say whether or not I would file charges, but I will consider and test all the evidence. Whether the case is provable or not, I will find out.”