The trial of Eric Frimpong, a UCSB soccer player accused of rape, will not be a media circus — or even a public affair — the defendant’s attorney said yesterday.
Attorney Robert Sanger, who called local news outlets yesterday including the Daily Nexus, said he will ask the judge presiding over Frimpong’s case to effectively bar all involved parties from speaking with the press. The trial will begin on March 28, and Deputy District Attorney Mary Barron will lead the prosecution.
Sanger said he is worried that extensive publicity may adversely affect the case and Frimpong — who has maintained his innocence.
“We are going to try this case in the courtroom, not in the press,” Sanger said.
Sanger, who said he usually avoids talking to the press, phoned local news organizations yesterday because he said the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept.’s press release on Frimpong’s arrest was “inappropriate” and harshly worded. Sanger would not discuss the case any further.
“What I will say is that, first of all, I’m responding because of a very strongly worded press release from the sheriff’s department, which I did not think was appropriate,” Sanger said.
Frimpong, who already posted or had another party post $100,000 bail, has “absolutely cooperated” with the authorities, and voluntarily provided a DNA sample, his attorney said.
Frimpong is accused of assaulting and raping a woman on the beach below the 6500 block of Del Playa. In the Sheriff’s Dept.’s press release, the victim described the perpetrator as a black adult male with an “island” accent, average to short height, with a slender build. The press release does not specify how detectives developed the probable cause to arrest Frimpong, a transfer student from Ghana.
Sheriff Dept. spokesman Sgt. Erik Raney said he would not further comment on the incident, since it is still a criminal investigation.