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US: Cleared in campus rape, NJ student files False Arrest suit


By Charles Toutant, From New Jersey Law Journal
A St. Peter’s University student has filed a federal civil rights suit claiming the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office lacked probable cause when it charged him with sexually assaulting a fellow student.
Plaintiff Samy Jecrois was arrested Nov. 12, 2014, two days after a sexual encounter in his dorm room with a female student, the complaint says. He was held in the Hudson County Jail until Dec. 2, 2014, because he could not make the $250,000 bail, the suit claims. The prosecutor’s office administratively dismissed his charges Dec. 22, 2014, before the case could be submitted to a grand jury.
The alleged victim, identified in the complaint as S.S.D., described to investigators multiple versions of what happened during the encounter with Jecrois, according to the suit. Inconsistencies in her account demonstrated that she could not tell a credible story in an interview with investigators, that she described an event that “could have been viewed as a consensual sexual encounter” and that the problems with her story should have alerted detectives that her allegations were insufficient to establish probable cause, the suit claims.
In Jecrois v. Sojak, the plaintiff describes three versions of the encounter that S.S.D. gave during an interview with investigators, each providing different details. In one version, she said she was afraid of him, and in another, she claimed she was saying “no, no” when he attempted to have intercourse with her.
“As described by S.S.D., this encounter should have alerted a reasonable law enforcement officer that what happened was a truly awkward instance of consensual sex rather than a forceful, involuntary sexual assault,” the suit claims.
Furthermore, a report by the county prosecutor’s office, which indicates the plaintiff forced himself on the alleged victim, contradicted statements by the victim’s father, who said S.S.D. told him the encounter was consensual, the suit claims.
The suit also alleges that although the victim was taken to a hospital for a sexual assault examination, the prosecutor’s office did not wait to receive the results of that examination before filing charges. The suit gives no indication what the results were.
Filed March 16, the suit names as defendants Hudson County, detectives Mark Sojak and Honey Spirito and sergeants Kenneth Kolich and Chonda Rosario of the prosecutor’s office. Jecrois’ suit brings claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for malicious prosecution, and also includes counts for false arrest and imprisonment, negligence and negligent supervision.
The day after his arrest, an article appeared on with the headline “Man Charged with Raping Saint Peter’s University Student In Dorm,” which identified Jecrois. As a result, the plaintiff has often heard comments linking him to a rape, causing him embarrassment, the suit claims.
The suit says Jecrois, who is from Atlantic City, was forced to transfer to another college, and lost a semester of his education due to the charges. He also has to carry the stigma of a sexual assault charge for the rest of his life, the suit says.
Jecrois’ attorney, Louis Shapiro of Vineland, declined to comment on the case.
Hudson County Counsel Donato Battista also declined to comment, as did James Kennelly, a spokesman for the county. A press contact for the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office did not return a call for comment.
A similar suit, Collick v. William Paterson University, was filed in January by two students who were accused of an on-campus rape but were cleared when a grand jury refused to indict them. In that case, plaintiffs Garrett Collick and Noah Williams were part of a group of five students who were accused of the gang rape of a female student. The William Paterson University Police Department arrested and charged Collick, Williams and the other three students with sexual assault but they were cleared by a grand jury in January 2015.
In the William Paterson case, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss March 18.
Photo by Michael Coghlan, via Flickr
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