After hearing DNA testimony allegedly linking UCSB soccer player Eric Frimpong to felony rape, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Brian Hill ruled today that enough evidence exists to pursue a trial.
During the court hearing, senior crime lab analyst Lillian Tugado testified that while Frimpong’s DNA did not appear on samples from the alleged rape victim’s body or clothes, a subsequent test found the woman’s DNA on swabs taken from the soccer player’s genitals. The court also heard testimony from a sheriff’s deputy and Frimpong’s friend before scheduling an Aug. 9 arraignment.
At the request of District Attorney Mary Barron, Tugado, an expert from the California Dept. of Justice’s Richmond laboratory, explained the DNA analysis process to the court and said she had handled samples in over 150 cases since 2002 and testified in over a dozen court proceedings.
“The sheriff’s office or police department submits [samples] to the regional department and criminologists will then determine which items are eligible for testing,” Tugado said. “Dianne Burns of Goleta sent them through courier [to Richmond].”
On March 9, Tugado said she analyzed the alleged rape victim’s body swabs and a cutting from her panties as well as a sample from one of Frimpong’s stained towels and a cheek swab, more commonly known as a “buckle sample”. Frimpong’s DNA was not found on any of the alleged victim’s samples, who, for privacy reasons, was referred to as Jane Doe One throughout the hearing. The panties cutting only showed sperm samples from Benjamin Randall.
In an interview after the hearing, Barron said Randall was the alleged victim’s boyfriend.
“It was consensual sex according to her,” Barron said.
However, on a subsequent test on March 27, Tugado said she found Jane Doe One’s DNA on samples taken from Frimpong’s fingernails, scrotum and penis.
“I tested 13 DNA regions,” Tugado said. “All were a match or concordant with Jane Doe One.”
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputy Joel Rivlin, assigned at the I.V. Foot Patrol office, also testified at the hearing. Rivlin said he responded to the alleged rape victim’s call and reported to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital at approximately 3:05 a.m. He said she appeared traumatized.
“She had definitely been crying,” Rivlin said. “She had a far-away stare.”
Rivlin also said that while Jane Doe One smelled slightly of alcohol, she did not seem intoxicated. However, Frimpong’s defense attorney Robert Sanger said the alleged victim’s blood-alcohol level was over .20.
Earlier in the hearing, UCSB second-year English major Krystal Giang said she had invited Frimpong to her neighbor’s party between midnight and 1 a.m, the night of the alleged rape. She described Frimpong as “a true gentleman” and said he did not seem intoxicated when she saw him. Giang said she briefly invited Frimpong to her home after attending the party.
“He was drunk, but he was very composed,” Giang said. “I offered him some water and some food.”
In an interview after the hearing, Barron said her office will charge Frimpong with one count of felony rape and one count of misdemeanor battery.
Frimpong, a member of UCSB’s 2006 championship soccer team and a native of Ghana, was arrested on Feb. 17 for allegedly raping a woman at a beach facing the 6500 block of Del Playa Drive. A week after his arrest, a second woman came forward to police and accused the soccer player of sexual battery, alleging that Frimpong had assaulted her on the beach below I.V.’s cliffs.
At last month’s court hearing, Frimpong’s girlfriend, Yesenia Prieto, a second-year psychology major, said Frimpong had come to her home in the early morning hours of Feb. 17, claiming he felt confused and drugged.