You’re the Jury – You Decide!

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make sense of the BCA suspect interviews (the Minnesota state-run Bureau of Criminal Apprehension interrogation of the perps). I thought I’d share some of the transcript with you (without names) to get your impression. The prosecutor’s office said they had three choices when reviewing the case: 1) charge it, 2) dismiss it, or 3) send it back for investigation. Since the FBI had already stepped up and was willing to re-interview the suspects with the Deputy, I found it hard to believe when they chose to dismiss it. Since you, the public, compose a typical jury, and ultimately the prosecutor’s office decided that a jury would not convict, I thought I’d come to all of you to get your impressions of the suspect credibility. (NOTE: The Hennepin County Prosecutor reviewing this case once it was transferred made it very clear that she was serving as an Assistant Prosecutor for Cook County, not for Hennepin County.)

Here are substantial excerpts (verbatim) from one suspect interview – you decide:

October 26, 2011, 7:27a.m. (3 months after the BCA received the suspect names and 3 weeks after the first suspect was interviewed): Agents go to the front door of the suspect residence and begin.

Agent: Uh, well we’re investigating the incident that happened in Cook County.

Suspect: Oh okay. I got a call.

Suspect gives a false name, later clarifying his correct name. ID is confirmed.

Agent:  Okay, so here’s the deal off the bat dude. Okay. By no means are we planning on arresting you or taking you to jail. You’re not in any trouble we just want your side of the story. Two sides to every story you know that and that’s why we’re here just want to get everything down on the table, get everything out in the open so we can get this thing solved, get outta  your guys’ hair and everything else. So you get what I’m saying? Cuz we weren’t there . . . there’s this gal that was up there in the group that you guys partied with that’s claiming that she was sexually assaulted. Okay? And the story that we’re getting from everybody else is that this is a consensual deal. That this whole thing that happened up there was everybody’s idea and there was nothing about it. However saying that when someone makes an allegation like that we have to follow up with it, okay? That doesn’t mean that I’m judging you by any means. I know what happens, everybody’s partying and having stuff, sometimes things happen but why we’re here is just to get your side . . . that’s completely it, okay? Maybe you didn’t see anything. I don’t know that.

Suspect: Yeah, and I didn’t um I was . . .

Agent: Were you back at the campsite with everybody else or what?

Suspect: Yeah, and I didn’t um I was . . .

Agent: Okay. Who was with you?

Suspect: (Gives agents name of his canoe partner.)

Turns out the suspect names his roommate who he confirms is currently living in the residence with him and sleeping right inside with his girlfriend present.

Agent: Is he home?

Suspect: If you guys come back a little later . . .

Agent gets suspect to give them the roommate’s (the other suspect’s) cell phone number.

Agent: Alright, Well here’s the deal alright. I’m not gonna ask you any questions (inaudible/vehicle) Cook County. In my experience I’ve been doing this a long time and so has my partner, okay? If it’s consensual and everything was, you know everybody’s idea, it comes out way cleaner when people have come forward with us and say you know this is, this is a bullshit allegation. This is (inaudible) I mean we talk to (name), we talked to everybody else and that’s what we’re getting from everybody else and this is just a big consensual deal.

Suspect: Yeah.

Agent: But we can’t conclude that. We need you guys to help us out with that. You know, I mean you tell us that you don’t want to talk to us cuz you want to talk to your lawyer then we can only go with the side of the story that we have. And the side of the story we have is that it wasn’t consensual. It’s in your guys’ best interest to help us out here.

Suspect: I hear ya.

Agent:  You know if you did nothing wrong you know that’s, you want to come and tell us that. You know.

Suspect: Yeah.

Agent: And if you want to give us a holler you know in a couple of days here and come down and meet with us and tell us what you know we’d be happy to listen to ya. But we can’t make it up on our own.

Suspect: Yeah exactly I understand um but I’m not a lawyer. And I don’t know, these are really serious allegations and it is . . .

Agent: Yep.

Suspect: . . . absolute bullshit you know. Beyond belief.

Agent: Right

Suspect: Because I do know.

Agent: Yep.

Suspect: Um and I. . . I mean. . .

Agent: Obviously then it is in your best interest to help us here. So we can close this up and say this is the deal.

Suspect: Yeah, I understand . . . So this is where I’m at . . . I want to know how I can go after her. Cuz its absolutely absurd that somebody can just, I don’t know what the motive is or what, but you how can people just make these allegations. And, oh, woops it didn’t work.

Agent: Well we have to wrap this one up first before you can get to that stuff. So there’s only one way to get there.

Suspect: I know, I know. My lawyer said you know that’s really just a dead end case, but what’s your motivation and why would you be going after her and it’s just like well I don’t know, some retribution or slander.

Agent: Well I can tell you one thing, if it’s at all possible that this was a made up bullshit deal and we can prove it, I can guarantee you that charges will go against that person if we can prove that this is a false accusation but in order for us to do that we need your guys help to get the story.

Suspect: I’d appreciate it if you could wait until his girlfriend leaves just to not stir the hornet’s nest.

Agent: Okay. And here’s the deal. We gotta go, but what I, yeah, and we know you gotta get to work, but can you send him a text or something and just tell him that we’re here. You gave us him phone number and we’re gonna call him?

Suspect: Yep.

Agent: You guys need to get in front of this. You really need to get in front of this.

Suspect: Okay.

Agents confirm once again that he’ll text his roommate sleeping inside (the other suspect) to call them.

Agent: What time does he usually wake up?

Suspect: I don’t know. 9 or 10.

Agent: So he works afternoons?

Suspect: Yeah.

Agent: Okay. Alright dude, ah get a lawyer.

Suspect: Sorry I couldn’t be more help but . . . you know it’s like it’s a big thing and it’s over my good friend’s head so gotta do what the lawyer says.

Agent tries to convince him to get out the information that would exonerate his friend.

Agent: I mean if there’s something that they told you it doesn’t implicate you in any way, but if there’s something they told you that you know will help us understand you know that this was consensual act um you know that’s, that doesn’t get you jammed up in any way.

Suspect: Yeah, I know.

Agent: We’re just looking for both sides of the story.

Suspect: Yep, I understand.

Agent: Well then before we let you go here I just wanna tell you one thing, there’s two sides when we look at cases like this okay. Because it, there are people that make up shit all the time, okay. But you gotta understand one thing not only are we investigating you guys on what happened but we’re also investigating her on what happened. Because it’s not fair for you to be accused of something you guys didn’t do that wasn’t a consensual deal. Okay so I just want you to think about that, okay?

Suspect: Yeah.

Agent: I’m not, we don’t come after the guys all the time on this stuff. It’s not always your, it’s not always a thing that isn’t ah you know a one-sided thing. So, when you talk to your lawyer and things like that just think about we’re working for you too just as much as we’re working for this gal that’s saying this shit, okay? There’s a million different reasons why people do this. I mean sometimes you know their recollection of what happened because of drinking and partying . .

Suspect: Yeah.

Agent: . . . is different from you know what their intent was when the act actually took place.

Suspect: Sure.

Agent: You know but you know were weren’t there so .  . .

Suspect: Right and . . .

Agent: We’re obligated to . . .

Suspect: . . . I ah . . .

Agent: talk to everybody that was.

Suspect: So let me ask you this, have you been looking for us for three months or did you . . .

Agent: We just got involved in this.

Suspect: Oh.

Agent: I mean, I’ll be truthfully honest with you we just got involved five, six weeks ago. We didn’t know who all the, everybody was.

Suspect: Yeah.

Agent: I mean we did, but you and (name) just came up.

Suspect: I’m sure it took a little time to track us down.

Agent: Will you just do me this one favor? Can you at least in a week yeah or nay and let me talk to your attorney or have him call me?

Suspect: Sure.

Agent: That’s it. I mean a week is fair enough, right?

Suspect: Ah . . .

Agent: Or sooner.

Suspect: Well, I don’t know. I mean an attorney is gonna want some money and that’s gonna be my issue there and ah . . .

Agent: So you got my number? Give me a call and ah . . .

Suspect: I’ll set it up. I’ll ah, I’ll talk to him and I’ll talk to everybody else and see what’s going on, okay?

Agent: Sounds good. If you could just let (name) know that we’ll give him a call later this afternoon. Thanks.

Suspect: Yep.

Agent: Or this morning.

Suspect: You bet.

Agent: Alright. Thanks.

Suspect: Bye

The Deputy found all the “perps” and requested involvement from the BCA on July 27, 2011.   In the end, only 3 of the suspect interviews were completed by BCA. They were conducted on October 6, October 20 and October 26. The October 20 suspect interview was a phone call and was not audio recorded. On the afternoon of October 26, the suspect sleeping in the house called to say that “everything that occurred in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) was consensual and whatever was said by the person reporting this crime was a lie.” This suspect promised to give a taped statement on October 27 at 10am, but later cancelled and it was never rescheduled. The BCA statement closing out this suspect interview says: “It is apparent that (name) does not wish to speak with investigators at this time.”

The BCA interview files were sent to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and Cook County Prosecutor for disposition on November 14, 2011. On November 15, Cook County Prosecutor Tim Scannell told my Mom that he’d spoken to the BCA lead investigator several times and his conclusion was: “You are blowing this way out of proportion. I’m telling you that the BCA was very, very direct – in fact he stated, “I feel certain that this case cannot be prosecuted.”

When the news segment aired on WCCO, I was glad to see it out there and grateful for the time devoted to the story and the investigative efforts put forth by the incredible duo – Liz Collin and Tom (photog), with their nonnstop efforts to find and share the facts and information. But initiallly I also felt a bit deflated because it didn’t include so many aspects of the incident both in the Boundary Waters and slogging through the legal process. It seemed to gloss over the more traumatic pieces that I had shared, only hinting at my belief that I was drugged with a rufi put in the one shot I was compelled to drink that night. The presence of the gun wasn’t mentioned. The gang rape involved 3 men rotating on me at the same time in repeated oral and anal sodomy. There were hand print bruises left all over my body. It didn’t share that one of the men got back in my tent that night and tried to rape me again or of the bullets I found at daybreak left near my head. The terror following the brutality can’t possibly emerge: my continuous vomiting, the pitch black night, being trapped on an island with no call box, no cell service, and no way to get help – praying for morning and the chance to get away – hoping I get away. No one shared that these men have been making annual trips to the Boundary Waters each year, or asked the tough question of what will be done to ensure they do not do this to women in the Twin Cities area (where they live) or on their next trip to the BWCA this year. Later, the realization that the Cook County elected officials and the state run Bureau of Criminal Apprehension did not take this seriously or make it a priority. Neither the prosecutor nor the sheriff deemed me worthy of a single personal conversation or email throughout the 10-month review process before making the decision to dismiss the crime with nary an inconvenience of any kind to the men involved.

Since it’s aired, I’m afraid all over again. The nightmares have come back and sleep has been hard to come by. Living in and through the trauma is so different from seeing it on the outside with the video footage. Merging the two perspectives is a struggle.  I’m hyper-vigilant again, looking over my shoulder, trying to fend off unknown assailants and attacks. I don’t feel safe staying in my own home.

– Julia

The WCCO News Story Has Aired

Thank you so very much for your kindness and the support shown to me since the Liz Collin WCCO story aired last night. Knowing you walk with me gives me courage I sometimes find lacking.  I plan to share more about the events and circumstances that transpired over the past year, as well as the ups and downs experienced as I move forward. Thanks for sticking with me and believing in brighter tomorrows. – Julia