No California charges for USC player awaiting Utah trial
LOS ANGELES (AP) Prosecutors in Los Angeles on Tuesday said they have decided not to file sexual assault charges against suspended USC football player Osa Masina, who is awaiting trial on similar charges in Utah.
Documents released by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said it would be too difficult to prove in court that Masina had sex with a woman who was too intoxicated to consent.
”Due to the victim’s description of the amount of controlled substances and alcohol consumed,” the documents say, ”as well as Masina’s statements, there is insufficient evidence to prove they knew or should have known that she was unable to legally consent.”
The case is among many involving collegiate athletes across the country, including Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner last year, that have brought increased attention to the issue, with calls for stronger protections for victims from universities and justice systems.
Los Angeles prosecutors also declined to file charges against Masina’s teammate Don Hill in the same case.
They say the evidence is stronger against Masina in the Utah case, which involves a night with the same woman nine days later. Prosecutors say those ”allegations involve force and are corroborated by independent evidence.”
Masina has pleaded not guilty in Utah and said the sex was consensual in both cases.
Masina’s attorney there, Greg Skordas of Salt Lake City, said he’s satisfied with the decision by investigators who he said treated his client fairly and thoroughly investigated the allegations. Skordas cautioned that being cleared in California doesn’t mean anything necessarily for the Utah case because they relate to separate incidents, albeit with the same woman.
The woman, who like Masina is from Utah, was visiting Los Angeles when she drank alcohol and used drugs with Masina and Hill on July 16 at Hill’s apartment, prosecutors said.
The woman told investigators that ”while feeling confused and not in control of her body, Masina and Hill engaged in sex with her,” according to the documents. She woke up in Masina’s apartment remembering little. Later in the day, he told her she had consented to the sex acts, and she returned to Utah the following morning.
Then on July 25, Masina and the woman met up at a party in Utah, and the alleged assault happened later that night. The woman testified during an evidentiary hearing in July that edible marijuana and alcohol left her nearly unable to move during the attack. She went to authorities in Utah four days later, and at the same time told them about the Los Angeles incident.
The 19-year-old Masina was a high school standout in Utah and a sophomore linebacker for USC until he was suspended in September from all team activities while the investigations play out. Team representatives on Tuesday say that status remains the same.
Athletes and universities around the country, including the football programs at the University of Minnesota and Baylor University in Texas, have received increased scrutiny in recent months and criticism of both the courts and colleges in how sexual assault cases were handled.
In Northern California last year, a jury convicted Turner of sexually assaulting a woman passed out from too much drink at an on-campus fraternity party at Stanford. A judge sentenced Brock Turner, now 20, to six months in jail, a sentence that sparked a national outcry over the light sentence. The judge is now the target of a recall campaign to remove him from the bench.