It’s always good to remember that an accused is innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Modern forensic science has exposed hundreds if not thousands of false arrests and incarcerations in the country in recent years. One recent arrest at North Carolina State University of a 21-year-old man for sexual assault offenses is in some ways exemplary of why an arrest should not be taken as proof of anything. Instead, the prosecution must prove each and every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction.
The attack occurred recently when a woman was leaving the university library at about 4:00 a.m. She reports that a man pushed her from behind into some bushes and committed a sexual assault. The arrest warrant asserts that the man told her he would kill her if she screamed.
Police said that they plan to continue the extra overnight patrols on campus through the end of exams, despite the arrest. Apparently, the main item of evidence that prosecutors are reporting is that the man told several people recently that he committed the offenses. He is not a student but was known to skateboard around the campus.
There have been several incidents of assault and other violent crime at N.C. State in recent weeks. One man was reportedly punched in the face and robbed by two men. A female student reported spraying a man with pepper spray when the man came up and put his arm around her. Police are not indicating a connection between these incidents.
As it stands, far more evidence is needed to convict of a violent crime in North Carolina than is shown so far in this matter. Furthermore, a night-time assault conducted in the manner described is possibly ripe for a false identification to be made. Defense counsel must meticulously investigate and evaluate each bit of evidence in such a case. The allegation that the individual admitted committing the assault to other people should be viewed cautiously until all of the evidence is revealed by the prosecution and evaluated by the defense.
Source: wral.com, “Arrest doesn’t calm anxious NC State community,” Sloane Heffernan, May 6, 2013