Warning: This article contains graphic content relating to sexual assault.
The Santa Barbara Superior Court convicted a former Santa Barbara City College student — put on trial following initial felony charges of sexual assault — of three misdemeanor counts at his sentencing hearing held on Sept. 26.
Peyton Joseph McDonald, a 19-year-old resident of Santa Barbara, was initially arrested on Sept. 9, 2021, in relation to a sexual assault that occurred on UC Santa Barbara campus property on Aug. 27, 2021.
The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office then charged McDonald with four felony counts: one count of rape by force or fear, two counts of forcible oral copulation, and one count of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury.
McDonald’s parents posted his bail that was filed on Oct. 5, 2021, according to Deputy DA Lauren Franco, who prosecuted the case. McDonald pleaded not guilty to all counts at his arraignment on March 2.
McDonald entered jury trial proceedings beginning Aug. 26 and attended multiple hearings over Zoom through the months of August and September, with Judge Brian Hill presiding.
The jury did not convict McDonald of any of the four felony charges and instead found him guilty of three lesser misdemeanor offenses. The convictions were one misdemeanor count of battery rather than forcible rape, one count of assault rather than forcible oral copulation and a second count of assault rather than assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury.
The court remanded McDonald into custody at his final hearing on Sept. 26, when he received his sentencing. McDonald also received a stay away order from Jane Doe, the victim using a false name for court records.
“These cases are extremely difficult,” Franco said in a statement to the Nexus. “In this case, Jane Doe took the stand and she was very brave in telling her story.”
Judge Hill ordered McDonald to serve 90 days in custody at the Santa Barbara County Jail with no custody alternatives and no early release, after which he will be released and serve a one-year probation term, according to Franco.
The court has ordered McDonald to complete 100 hours of community service, take a sexual education class and obey all laws for the duration of his probation.
According to Franco, McDonald is not required to register as a sex offender, as the judge declined her request to impose his registration during his probationary term. McDonald also may not carry a firearm during probation.
Executive Director of Public Affairs and Communications at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) Martha Swanson told the Nexus that McDonald was a student at SBCC in Fall 2021. Swanson said that McDonald is not currently enrolled at SBCC.
Correction [10/6/2022, 4:35 p.m.]: This article has been amended to include a content warning.
A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the Oct. 6, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.