Victim allegedly raped by Jesse Matthew at Liberty never filed charge

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LYNCHBURG, Va. -- Jesse Matthew, a suspect in the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, was questioned in connection with an alleged sexual assault nearly 12 years ago, authorities said Thursday.

However, no charges were filed because the woman didn't want to go forward with the case and investigators determined there wasn't enough evidence to arrest Matthew, said Michael Doucette, the Commonwealth's Attorney for Lynchburg, Virginia.

According to a statement from Lynchburg police, a woman reported she was raped on the campus of Liberty University on October 17, 2002.

Matthew told authorities that the woman consented, Doucette said, and added that there were no witnesses.

The complaining witness in the case did not want to move forward with prosecution and there were no independent witnesses.

Matthew was at Liberty for three years, from 2000-2002.

He transferred to Christopher Newport University, where he was a student from January 2003 through Oct. 15, 2003.

He was a member of the football team from August 14 to Sept. 12, 2003, according to the CNU administration.

In a statement to WTVR, administration said that "federal student record privacy laws limit the information we can provide."

"Students don't usually leave in the second month of the semester or leave the football team within a month," the statement read.

The university is fully cooperating with law-enforcement agencies.

A former Liberty teammate, and the team's football captain William Haith told the  Daily Mail :

"He got into some trouble over sex with a girl. She made a complaint against him. He was put out of the football team because of the complaint. He was kicked out of the university as well."

Liberty would not say if Matthew was expelled. Non-marital sexual relations that would "undermine the Christian identity or faith mission of the University,"  are considered a violation of the personal code of honor. A student could be dismissed for non-marital sexual relations, according to their policy.

Doucette  is forwarding the reports to the Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney.

Several of Matthew's friends and teammates said that he is a really nice, gentle guy, and possibly learning disabled.  Such descriptions don't match up with the charges.

“People just aren't willing to go on camera and say that other side because they are afraid of retribution,”said criminal defense attorney Scott Goodman.

Although Goodman said he doesn't know the details of the Liberty case, he said that today prosecutors would still move forward, regardless.

"This is the very thing that domestic violence cases now emphasize, don't jsut drop charges because a victim doesn't want to prosecute --you prosecute the case."

 

21 comments

  • Glen Allen

    …the woman didn’t want to go forward with the case and investigators determined there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest Matthew. It is quite possible she did not want to move forward with the case because it did not happen. This is exactly why it is so important for victims of a sexual assault to follow thru with their complaints if they are true. If this incident really did happen, and the young lady followed thru with her complaint, Hannah Graham might not be missing today.

    • Msswiss

      Glen allen, it’s also possible she was raped and did not proceed with pressing charges due to shame. It could go either way.

      • lt

        or fear/retaliation- the guy is a giant. What ever he did was enough to get him kicked off the team/ university and that was the administrations decision.

  • Debbie Hundley

    You wonder if he is the one who raped and killed Morgan Harrington. The mugshot of the man who they think is the one who did it and has never been found sure does look like him when he worked for the cab company. It sure does raise questions!!

  • scumpuppy

    I would guess to say that she got a free ride at Liberty for the remainder of her college years and maybe even a fat check from good old LU!

  • Lucy

    As a graduate of LU, I can vouch for the fact that sexual assaults DO occur on campus, and the university does its best to keep it under wraps by providing free education, etc. to victims and expelling the perpetrators. The university does not want such things to tarnish its reputation; sometimes things do get out, like the time a female student was stabbed in a public bathroom in DeMoss Hall, or the time a group of students was arrested for committing several robberies in Lynchburg. If you stay more than a semester, you learn about these things. Don’t get me wrong, I value my education provided by LU–regardless of how much people like to poke fun at the university, it IS accredited and many employers look favorably on a degree from Liberty, especially in nursing and teacher education–and it’s a good school, but it isn’t perfect, and they do try to cover up sexual assaults.

  • cmdh

    Now that Matthew has been linked by DNA to the Harrington murder, which also then links him to a sexual assault where the victim escaped alive in Fairfax City, can we move away from the idea of racial profiling please. There is strong evidence linking these cases and this man to these crimes. I think it is also a very reasonable assumption that the woman who originally brought charges at LU and later dropped them may very well have been told it was a “he said, she said” case and it was clearly pointed out that the LU morality clause would apply to her as well if she couldn’t prove it wasn’t concentual, meaning she would be expelled. Pressure, shaming, and wanting something to go away can be a very powerful motivator for a young distressed woman. If LU promised to expell Matthew, but not her, in exchange for dropping charges after making clear she would not win, really what other option did she have?

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