By Jess Hoogendoorn
The case involving an alleged rape of a Rider student by New Jersey State troopers will soon reach its four-month mark without any progress.
On Dec. 7, 2007, a 25-year-old Rider student reported that off-duty troopers raped her at a Ewing residence owned by one of the troopers. The student reported that she met the seven troopers at KatManDu, a nightclub in Trenton.
No legal action has taken place since the case was taken over by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. Since then no explanation has been given for the delay, the troopers implicated in the rape are still suspended on paid leave, the alleged victim has not spoken to the press or taken further legal measures, and a story surfaced about the troopers claiming the sex was consensual.
The alleged incident took place after one of KatManDu’s college nights where bottles of beer are $1 and women carrying a college ID enter for free. Despite the alleged incident, Joe Surdo, KatManDu’s marketing director, told The Times of Trenton that the club has no plans to put an end to college nights.
The case is still under investigation and the accused troopers remain on paid leave, according to Lt. Gerald Lewis of the New Jersey State Police.
The case was originally under the control of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office but was later relocated to Middlesex County. Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini Jr. stepped aside after making comments about the case, calling it a “nightmare” in an interview with the Star-Ledger of Newark. A spokesperson for the State Attorney General’s Office said the case was moved to Middlesex because that county has a rape investigation task force, according to an article published in The Times.
The seven troopers’ paid leave has collectively cost the state at least $134, 470, given that each makes at least a New Jersey’s trooper starting salary of $58,748 a year. This ends up being at least $1,130 a week per trooper, but The Times reported that the ages of the accused range from 25 to 40, so the actual salaries vary. This figure assumes that each trooper has been paid for the 17 weeks since Dec. 7 to the four-month mark of the case, which will be April 7. It doesn’t take benefits into account.
The amount of time that has elapsed since the incident could be attributed to several factors. The Times reported that Brent Tuvey, a forensic scientist and co-author of “Rape Investigation Handbook,” said that the delayed decision on whether to prosecute could be linked to several evidentiary issues.
“Number one, you have no evidence; number two, you have screwed up the evidence you have; or, three, you are not aware of the evidence you have,” Tuvey said.
Robert Ebberup, a lawyer for one of the accused troopers, believes that the amount of time that has passed without charges is because investigators do not want to have another “embarrassment” like the one that occurred with the Duke University lacrosse team, The Times reported.
Duke lacrosse players were accused of rape but eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.