Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa sentenced the remaining seven defendants on June 17 in the videotaped assault case involving a Santa Barbara City College freshman, which occurred more than a year ago.
Two of the defendants, Greg Singer and Scott Carter, received the maximum punishment of 90 days in county jail, and Joshua Burns received 45 days in county jail. The other four defendants, Patrick Mueller, David Rhodes, Matthew Blessing and Charles Anderson, were sentenced to 30 days in county jail. Each defendant’s sentence included a three-year probation period.
The judge also ordered the defendants to write apologies to the victim and make donations to various charities that aid victims of sexual assault, child abuse and drug abuse programs.
The eighth defendant, Adam Delafuente, was sentenced to 30 days in county jail and three years probation on Oct. 30.
The recorded assault occurred onSept.15, 2000 in Blessing, Mueller and Anderson’s 6600 block Trigo Road apartment – the other five defendants are not I.V. residents. The videotape showed the eight suspects force-feeding the victim shots of alcohol and beer until the victim lost consciousness and the ability to stand on his own. The defendants wrote on the victim’s face, chest, arms and lower body with marker and painted the victim’s face, mouth and genitals with whiteout.
Sheriff’s Dept. Lt. Jim Peterson said last June that the “unconscious victim was [then] dragged to an exterior enclosed laundry room and left in a lying position, flat on his stomach with his face flat down in a pillow. While in the laundry room, the victim was disrobed of all of his clothing and urinated on.”
The victim was dragged to the parking lot of Trigo Road apartment and placed on a couch where “food, beer and trash items were poured and thrown onto the victim while he was unconscious on the couch,” Peterson said. A copy of the videotaped assault was anonymously turned in to the Isla Vista Foot Patrol station on June 4, 2001.
Deputy District Attorney Joyce Dudley said all eight defendants pleaded no contest to the felony false imprisonment and misdemeanor battery charges. Carter and Singer also pleaded no contest to the charges of committing a lewd act in public.
After the sentencing, Ochoa called the seven defendants to the stand.
“The resolution to this involves each of you taking responsibility for your actions and acknowledging your conduct was serious. It is easy to look at this as a college prank, but it is a big issue. You each realize this now,” he said. “The important thing about making serious mistakes like this is learning a lesson. You either got the message now or you don’t.”
Doug Hayes, Rhodes’ defense attorney, said the deal made by the district attorney was “unsatisfactory.”
“The DA bludgeoned us into making a deal. My [client] would have been found not guilty if it had gone to trial,” he said.
Hayes said the initial sexual assault charges were more a product of sensationalism than his client’s wrong doing.
“It never was a sexual assault. The media took the story and tried to make it sexy” he said. “Drunk guys and another drunk guy are not sexy.”
Dudley said the punishment did not fit the crime.
“I have the utmost respect for the judge and the probation department but I believe it was too light. I asked for most of them to spend one year in jail; it was quite a disparity with their actual punishment,” she said. “The behavior was not just despicable, it was criminal. I think these guys just got off too light for criminal behavior.”