Attorneys: Rights of alleged victims in Chris Jones rape case ha - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Attorneys: Rights of alleged victims in Chris Jones rape case have 'been trampled on'

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Will Walsh and Dina Bartlett, attorneys for the accusers in the Chris Jones case. Will Walsh and Dina Bartlett, attorneys for the accusers in the Chris Jones case.
WDRB talked briefly to Chris Jones Wednesday. He said he's not in Louisville and was at home (in Memphis) with his friends. WDRB talked briefly to Chris Jones Wednesday. He said he's not in Louisville and was at home (in Memphis) with his friends.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - The rights of the two alleged victims in the Chris Jones rape case have "been trampled on," their attorneys said during an interview with WDRB on Wednesday.

In their first interview since the former University of Louisville basketball player and two co-defendants were arrested, attorneys Will Walsh and Dina Bartlett said they are concerned Jones is getting special treatment. They said they are angry the alleged victims found out from the media, not prosecutors, that Jones and his co-defendant had been released from home incarceration Monday. 

"These girls have suffered a horrific, horrific event; they've been traumatized," said Bartlett. "They were just starting to heal and now they are being re-victimized because these perpetrators are out."

On Monday, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Barry Willett released Jones and his co-defendants from home incarceration at the urging of defense attorneys and without objection from prosecutors.

In his order, Willett said the investigation was still ongoing and the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office has scheduled a lengthy grand jury presentation scheduled to begin April 27. The defendants were released on a $20,000 unsecured bond, meaning they don't have to pay any money as long as they show up for court and don't violate the conditions of their release.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Cooke, a spokesman for the office, said a victim's advocate tried to reach the two women Tuesday, but didn't get in touch with them until Wednesday morning. Because the women are 18 and 19, the office talks with them, not their family or attorneys, he said.

"We don't deal with third parties," Cooke said.

Cooke said the office is "disappointed" that the women had to hear the news from the media but "we did make every effort to reach them." 

Prosecutors did not object to the bond change because the defendants have had no problems while on home incarceration and it is a "complicated" case, Cooke said. He also said it may take more than one day for grand jurors to hear the case. 

"This case is more complicated than most and has more witnesses than most," he said. 

Bartlett said "we have made it very clear to the prosecutors that we want to be kept involved. We knew absolutely nothing."

WDRB talked briefly to Chris Jones Wednesday. He said he's not in Louisville and was at home (in Memphis) with his friends. Jones said he would call back for an interview but has not.

Cooke said under the new bond, Jones and his co-defendants can leave the state. 

Bartlett said the women are afraid of the defendants but also of "certain segments of the community," saying they have received "blowback" from some supporters of Jones. 

Gretchen Hunt, staff attorney with the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, said nationally, “the best practice in cases of rape, sexual assault and stalking is not to release suspects without strict conditions.”

“Victims of sexual assault experience great trauma. Once you know the person who assaulted you is out, you are constantly concerned about safety and well-being – you are constantly looking over your shoulder,” Hunt said. “It almost seems like the victims are being placed under house arrest. Can they leave the house and feel safe without the fear of running into the people who assaulted them?”

Hunt said as soon as a victim comes forward with a report of rape or sexual assault, "they put themselves at risk for retaliation, harassment and for their confidentiality being compromised.

"When we see a situation where people are accused of very serious offenses – such as rape or sexual assault – and they are released there is always a concern for the victims' safety," she said.

Hunt said her organization is also “very concerned about the message this will send to other victims.”

Jones and his co-defendants, Tyvon Walker and Jalen D. Tilford, were ordered to have no contact with each other, the alleged victims or the "place of violation."

Scott C. Cox, Jones' attorney, did not immediately return a phone call.

Brian Butler, who represents Walker, said the bond change was made because prosecutors and defense attorneys "anticipate a lengthy grand jury process" and this gives the commonwealth's attorney's office "as much time as they need to fully investigate this matter."

Jones is charged with two counts of rape and two counts of sodomy. According to the warrants, Jones raped and sodomized a woman on Feb. 22 and she was able to identify Jones "because she recognized him as a University of Louisville basketball player" and he told her his name. That woman was examined at the university, one warrant says.

A second warrant says Jones, along with Tilford and Walker, forced a woman to have intercourse and oral sex. She also identified Jones as a U of L player, according to the warrant. She was taken to University Hospital, where she was treated.

Jones, 23, was dismissed from U of L's team in February.

Cox has said that “every single person who was in the apartment” the night Jones is accused of raping the women will support his innocence.

“The evidence in his favor, frankly, is growing every day as we continue our investigation,” Cox told reporters last month, shortly after Jones' case was waived to a grand jury. “I don't think the proof will support charges against Chris.”

Cox has said there were “numerous” people in the apartment Feb. 22 and alleged that police did not interview these witnesses until after Jones was charged.

Bartlett and said she has "110 percent confidence" in U of L Det. John Tarter, who is heading the investigation.

"From what we know in this case, the evidence is ample," she said. Bartlett said defense attorneys do not have the evidence in the case yet and are mostly posturing for the media.

"The defense thinks they need to talk to the press," she said. "Quite frankly, I think the defense is trying to to prejudice the jury pool in this case. I believe the citizens of Jefferson County are a little smarter."

Walsh said they are familiar with some of the evidence in the case and are "very confident" in the ability of prosecutors to get a conviction.

Bartlett said they have stayed quiet thus far "because we were counting on the process to work and for our clients to be treated fairly."

Bartlett and Walsh would not say whether the women knew Jones or what happened the night of the alleged rapes.

Asked what the women want to see happen, Bartlett said, "they want them to go to jail. ... They are still hoping for justice."


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