Almost two weeks following a highly publicized rape allegation that the victim claimed occurred inside a University of Nebraska football player's home the Lincoln Police Chief and Lancaster County Attorney announced that no charges would be filed.
Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly said that the decision not to prosecute was based on a number of factors. Kelly said that they evaluated all the facts, interviewed everyone that was present at the time of the incident and that they weighed it against what would need to be presented before a jury to make a case.
"We would have to prove in front of a jury (it happened) beyond a reasonable doubt," said Kelly. "That simply is not there and ethically I can't move forward.
The chief told reporters that he believed the victim, but said the elements to prosecute a crime weren't present.
"I mean, I believe the victim," said Chief Peschong. "We had a report of an alleged sexual assault. We conducted an investigation into this matter with investigators, and the Lancaster County Attorney's Office, and we do not feel we have the elements of a crime that we can move forward with."
The case involves a woman who told police that she was raped at a house in Lincoln. Records indicate that Husker quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr., wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp and tight end Trey Foster live at that residence.
The 20-year-old woman told police she was sexually assaulted there on the morning of November 15th.
In the aftermath of the news conference Wednesday morning the University of Nebraska Athletics Department issued the following statement:
"We are aware of this morning's announcement by the Lincoln Police Department and the Lancaster County Attorney. There is no change in the status of any student-athletes. We will continue to follow University policies."
The chief said the woman who made the allegation was cooperative but wouldn't comment on her reaction to this news.
Chief Peschong wouldn't say whether anyone else corroborated the story or whether it was a disagreement over consent. During a 15-minute news conference Peschong declined to answer eight questions.
Since no arrests were ever made, and charges are not expected to be filed the Chief said that the names of the people that were interviewed would not be released. The Chief declined to comment on whether the players were among those home at the time of the party, while the county attorney reiterated that it's unusual for a sex assault report to garner so much attention.
"Generally there wouldn't be anything in the paper, in the news," said Kelly. "There's no charges so there normally wouldn't be a press conference."
In fact, more than 200 sexual assaults were reported in 2014, only a handful of those cases came to light. Part of that has to do with the number of reports that lead to prosecution. According to data provided by the Lincoln Police Department the clearance rate of sexual assault cases was 15-percent.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we have one of the lowest clearance rates in the county," said Peschong, pointing out that they encourage all victims to report possible assaults even if they don't plan on prosecuting.
Peschong said that Lincoln Police attempt to keep an open line of communication with victims, often times asking that they go to the hospital and ask for a rape kit even if they aren't certain they'll file charges. The chief said they do that so that evidence is on file if a victim changes their mind, or if a pattern emerges that may help police solve crimes against other victims.