Jury Finds Defendant Not Guilty on All Charges in UCD Sexual Assault Case



by Tiffany Yeh

Defendant Ephrem Rukundo was found not guilty on all three charges: felony oral copulation with an unconscious person, felony anal or genital penetration of an unconscious person with a foreign object, and misdemeanor sexual battery.

The jury began deliberating around 12:26pm Thursday (June 2, 2016). Around 3:40pm the same day, the jury reached a verdict.

Shortly before and while the verdict was being read, Mr. Rukundo leaned his head against his two intertwined hands. Deputy Public Defender Dean Johansson patted the defendant’s back after the verdict was read. The defendant seemed to be emotional.

After the verdict was read, a female in the audience started crying and walked out abruptly from the courtroom with a sob. Two of her friends followed her out the door, attempting to comfort her.

Jurors declined to speak to the Vanguard and seemed to be relieved that their jury service was over.

Closing Arguments

By Prince Sahota

The evidence in the trial of Ephrem Rukundo concluded with closing arguments by the prosecution and the defense. The case involved an alleged sexual assault of “TA,” a UC Berkeley graduate, on the UC Davis campus in April of 2015 by Ephrem Rukundo, a French international PhD student at the same university.

Prosecutor Deanna Hays explained that Mr. Rukundo used his life experience, education and political connection to convince women to sleep with him.  She claimed the defendant announced that his father was a diplomat with the United Nations and gave speech(es) in New York City.  The defendant is allegedly a survivor of genocide in Rwanda, Africa.  The defendant had an interpreter in court.  Ms. Hays called this an attempt to create a false story of oppression.  Ms. Hays said these facts were brought to light so the court would view the defendant with sympathy. Prosecutor Hays deemed these alleged facts to be an attempt to overshadow his criminal act.

Ms. Hays contended that family members of the defendant only knew the good side of the defendant, not his ability to be a “sexual predator.”

The prosecutor reviewed the official jury instructions for California law. These included instructions for oral copulation pursuant to Penal Code section 288a(f), sexual penetration according to Penal Code section 289(d), and sexual battery pursuant to Penal Code section 243(e)(1).

Hays stated that the complaining witness, TA, could not give consent to sex. Hays did accept that TA did not experience severe injury. However, she warned that for sexual assault victims who were unconscious, force does not have to be used in the act.  She maintained that the lack of need to use force helps criminals justify their behavior.

Ms. Hays asserted that the sexual assault exam at the Sutter Medical Center proved all three crimes.  She declared that penetration occurred, based on layers of DNA evidence found on TA’s body.  She was alluding to expert witness testimony by Lillian Bert and Nicole Shea.  First, the semen protein was discovered by taking swabs of the alleged victim’s vaginal and anal areas, and Mr. Rukundo was one of three possible contributors. This conclusion was based on variables in genetic markers which distinguish people from each other.

Prosecutor Hays turned to social norms.  She maintained that the defendant knew how to conduct himself at an American university party. She pointed out that he never had a conversation with the alleged victim to form consent for sex.

Ms. Hays shifted the court’s attention to the defendant’s phone in his possession the night and morning of the incident.  She maintained that defendant Rukundo spoke with the Davis Police Department on May 4, 2015.  When the police executed a search warrant, they gathered a brand new phone. During her closing statement she characterized Mr. Rukundo as a “sophisticated criminal.”

Next, Deputy Public Defender Dean Johansson presented to the court.  He accepted the DNA evidence without question. Both he and Ms. Hays stipulated that a toxicology report would show that TA’s consciousness was not impaired.  Further, he argued that TA was not under the influence of any drugs.

Johansson presented a photograph depicting Mr. Rukundo, his date “LS” (the alleged victim’s friend) and TA as happy.  He wanted the jury to see that the alleged victim’s eyes were open, and not drunk.  He argued that it was suspicious that no photos were found of the party because so many contemporary young people use technology to document social events in a positive way.

Johansson argued that TA wanted to have sex with a lady named “V,” however, she became very upset when the lady departed from the scene.  He said that TA sobbed in the middle of and in view of party attendees to seek attention.

Mr. Johansson argued that TA consciously undressed at the party and she lifted her hips as the defense claimed.  He accused TA of exaggerating that she was raped after a yearlong conspiracy to make this story up.  He also said that TA only admitted to her supposed sex dream when he, the defense, finally asked her about it.

In the matter of the sexual assault exam, the defense claimed this was evidence of a conspiracy to fabricate.  He explained that the report read that an assault took place between 3:30 a.m. and 3:45 a.m. while the sexual assault exam began at 4:12 a.m.  TA was possibly motivated to hide her affair with the defendant because she was in a relationship, and she had a sexual encounter with her friend’s new date.

In her statement following the defense’s, Prosecutor Hays declared that the defendant fantasized that the complaining witness contacted him physically and sexually prior to any sexual act.  She said movement by TA was not volitional during sleep. She challenged the theory from the defense of fabricating the complaint. She recalled TA saying that her underwear was inside out, so TA could not have made up the narrative.  She said that the jury could find it believable that a man would commit this crime while a victim was sleeping, if they would think as if in the mind of a criminal person.  Hays named this condition “the beauty of the crime, because the victim had no idea what happened to her.” Hays mentioned that TA’s unclear memory is common in sexual assault cases. In her final statement she asked that Rukundo not be rewarded for being a good criminal, but that the jury find him guilty.

Wednesday’s Testimony

By Misha Berman       

“I did not have consensual sex with Mr. Rukundo,” stated the alleged victim when Deputy District Attorney Deanna Hays asked her if she had had consensual sex with the defendant, Ephrem Rukundo.

Witness testimony resumed earlier today on June 1, 2016, in the trial of Mr. Rukundo. The complaining witness in this case resumed her testimony from the prior court day. Ms. Hays first asked the alleged victim if she hit or slapped Mr. Rukundo when he was leaving the morning after the alleged sexual assault. The alleged victim said that she did.

“Were you sober in the morning?” asked Deputy Public Defender Dean Johansson.

Judge Dave Rosenberg then stated that Mr. Johansson needed to be clearer on what exactly he meant by “sober.” Johansson then asked the alleged victim if she had had any drug or medication on April 26, 2015. The alleged victim stated that she was only taking birth control.

Judge Rosenberg then asked Ms. Hays to read the questions the jurors wrote down. One of the questions one of the jurors wrote was “how loud were you when you said that you can’t f— girls when they are sleeping?” The alleged victim responded that she was very loud.

Ms. Hays asked her to demonstrate in the courtroom how loud she was – and she was very loud. The second question one of the jurors wrote was “how do you know you didn’t (achieve) orgasm if you were sleeping?” Judge Rosenberg then stated this question was too vague and needed to be more specific.

Ms. Hays then asked the alleged victim, “Did you ever wake up wet when you had a sex dream?” The alleged victim responded that she had not.

The next witness was the alleged victim’s twin sister, “AA.” Ms. Hays asked AA if she and her sister sleep in the same room most of the time they are together. AA responded she and her twin sister do. Ms. Hays then asked AA if there were ever times when her twin sister was asleep but she was awake. AA responded that there were times this occurred.

Ms. Hays asked AA if she ever encountered, while being awake, her twin sister walking while she was asleep or doing “physical acts” in her sleep. AA said no.

The third witness, Officer John Evans, was called in to testify. “I was first assigned to the case on April 27, 2015,” said Officer Evans.

Ms. Hays asked Officer Evans when he first communicated with Mr. Rukundo. Evans responded that he first communicated with Rukundo on May 4, 2015. Ms. Hays asked Officer Evans when Mr. Rukundo was arrested. Evans responded that the defendant was arrested after the “search warrant” on May 6, 2015.

Officer Evans said that Mr. Rukundo was searched and a phone was found. Then photos were taken.

Ms. Hays then showed the jury one of the pictures that was identified as “People’s 20.” She asked Officer Evans if he knew what was in that picture. Officer Evans responded that it was a room in Mr. Rukundo’s apartment.

Mr. Johansson approached and said that Officer Evans stated during earlier testimony that the cell phone was broken. Officer Evans said, no, that was not the case. Mr. Johansson then stated that Officer Evans said that they could not use the phone to investigate because there is a password that was hard to “break into.”

Mr. Johansson then asked where Mr. Rukundo was arrested. Evans said the defendant was arrested at his front door. Ms. Hays then had the floor again, and asked if there were any DNA samples taken from Rukundo. Evans responded that DNA samples were not taken from Rukundo until May 25, 2015.

“Because no results came back from DOJ, since no DNA had come back from [the alleged] victim,” responded Officer Evans.

Ms. Hays asked if any DNA samples were taken from the alleged victim. Officer Evans responded affirmatively. Ms. Hays asked Officer Evans if DNA samples are ever taken from suspects. Officer Evans responded that sometimes they are taken from suspects, and they have to be taken from suspects as soon as possible.

Ms. Hays then said that they identified Mr. Rukundo using his DNA sample, after Mr. Rukundo gave a sample of his DNA. The jury had more questions. Ms. Hays then read the questions. The first question by one of the jurors was “how many victims of sexual assault did you interview in your career? And how many child victims of sexual assault did you interview?” Officer Evans responded that he has interviewed “over 100” sexual assault victims and, in regard to child sexual assault victims, “some children.”

The next question one of the jurors asked was “have you ever talked to suspects of sexual assault?” Officer Evans responded yes, that he has interviewed suspects of sexual assault. Ms. Hays continued with the jury questions, and the next question by one of the jurors was “have you had the opportunity talk to victims of sexual assault who were unconscious or intoxicated, and how many?” Officer Evans responded that he has, and added that he has spoken to “a lot because Davis is a college town.”

The next question by one of the jurors was the same as the last, except it was rephrased as whether he had spoken to “suspects” of sexual assault against victims who were “unconscious or intoxicated.” Officer Evans also responded that he has.

The final question by one of the jurors was “do you have training in dealing with victims who have memory problems due to trauma, intoxication or unconsciousness?” Officer Evans responded that he has, and that a lot of the victims of sexual assault he interviewed had this issue.

Judge Rosenberg then dismissed Officer Evans and concluded with informing the jurors with what would happen next.

“Attorneys will present closing arguments. Closing arguments are by no means evidence.  I will now give instructions on law. Then we will be done for the day,” said the judge.

Judge Rosenberg stated that closing arguments will be at 9:00am in Department 14 on Thursday, June 2.

Wednesday’s Testimony

By Prince Sahota

In the case against defendant Ephrem Rukundo, evidence concluded for both parties, with witnesses and the defendant testifying about the facts of this case. The trial is following an alleged sexual assault incident which occurred at a party at the University of California, Davis.

Defendant Rukundo is charged as follows in accordance with California state law: oral copulation under Penal Code section 288a(f), sexual penetration as stated in Penal Code section 289(d), and sexual battery pursuant to Penal Code section 243(e)(1).

Prosecutor Deanna Hays resumed her cross-examination of Mr. Rukundo. He explained that on the night of the alleged incident in April of 2015, TA, the complaining witness in this case, had sex with consent.  Rukundo’s premise was that she pulled his arms towards the crouching position of her body.  The defendant decided that he would go with it and follow TA’s lead during the incident.  The defendant testified that he ejaculated and the alleged victim reached an orgasm.  He noted hearing TA curse following the sexual act and saying that “you don’t f— girls while they are sleeping …”

Then, the prosecutor called AA, the alleged victim’s twin sister, to the witness stand. When asked if her sister ever sleepwalks or talks in her sleep, she said no.  When Mr. Johansson cross-examined this witness, he asked her if she had discussed her testimony with Ms. Hays or Officer John Evans, a police officer with the Davis Police Department, assigned to this case.

Soon thereafter, Officer Evans was called by the prosecutor to explain his role in this case. He remembered executing a search warrant.  He traveled to and entered Mr. Rukundo’s apartment, where he obtained the accused person’s phone, and pictures were taken. Evans admitted that he did not retrieve information from the phone. However, he said the district attorney’s office had a crime lab which could gather electronic information.

The jury asked questions of Officer Evans regarding his experience.  He was asked to state the number of sexual assault cases he had worked on.  He expressed that he had worked on 100 cases and 60 percent of those took place or allegedly took place in a college town.  He noted that suspects in these kinds of cases tend to allege to be under the influence of alcohol, while victims are certain that they were unconscious when they suffered from a criminal act.  The testimony then concluded in this case, followed by the decision of which exhibits, including items and photos, would be admitted into evidence.  Closing arguments will take place on June 2, 2016.


About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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75 thoughts on “Jury Finds Defendant Not Guilty on All Charges in UCD Sexual Assault Case”

    1. David Greenwald

      Why do you reach that conclusion? I think the jury reached the conclusion that there was not enough evidence to believe a sexual assault occurred. I sympathize with the plight of sexual assault victims, but unfortunately it is a tough crime to prove and there just wasn’t evidence of it in this case. You can’t convict people because of what you think may have happened, it has to be proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

        1. davisgirl_530

          @David Greenwald


          The new law seeks both to improve how universities handle rape and sexual assault accusations and to clarify the standards, requiring an “affirmative consent” and stating that consent can’t be given if someone is asleep or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.

          Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent,” the law states, “nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.”



          1. David Greenwald

            I’m fairly sure that applies not to criminal sanctions but rather to university handling of it.

        2. davisgirl_530


          Yes I am aware that it for university proceedings. You replied to Barack Palin’s comment saying that it was not the law that “liberals fought for”. When in fact, it was.

          In regards to criminal law:

          In California, consent is defined as positive cooperation; it must be freely and voluntarily given, and all participants must have knowledge and understanding of the act. Consent cannot be given where:

          Force, threat of force, coercion or fraud is used to gain compliance

          Someone is incapacitated due to alcohol or other drug use

          Someone is asleep or unconscious

          Someone is under the legal age of consent (18 years old in California)


        3. David Greenwald

          Actually I said it wasn’t the lawnow, I was not commenting on whether it was the law that liberals fought for.

          From my very brief conversation with one person involved in the case I got the impression that there was some question as to whether or not it happen while she was asleep.

        4. Barack Palin

          Did she consent, whether asleep or not or being intoxicated, did she consent to having sex?

          Let’s be honest here.  I loved this case because I knew it created a predicament for liberals.  It involved a black man who was a foreigner who spoke little English having sex with a woman who didn’t consent.  How would our local liberals deal with this?  I think we’re now seeing in the comments.



        5. davisgirl_530

          I am trying my hardest right now to respond to your comment in a professional manner, but your choice of words is chilling. You said you “loved” this case. That was a very abhorrent way of stating your interest in this case. I just want to mention one more time that a young college girl was raped. This was her case, her nightmare over the last year. Saying you “loved” this case dehumanizes her and her struggle even more than the Davis Vanguard Courtwatch has during its reports.
          To answer your question, after being awakened from sleep, because she was being raped, she did NOT consent to “sex”.

        6. Barack Palin

          Davisgirl, my point was it didn’t matter if she was awake or asleep, she never consented to having sex.  It’s no longer no means no, it has to be a yes. I loved the case for its legal and liberal activist agenda standpoints only.  I abhor rape and feel for the woman involved.

      1. davisgirl_530


        I’m just worried that you keep saying this is not the law now, when it fact it is, even if it is for University cases, it is still the law.

        I am also curious as to whom you spoke to “briefly” that there was a question of whether or not the victim was asleep. Considering the one sided articles that have been very favorable to the defendant and portrayed him in a positive light with a even a glimmer of victimhood, that have been published on this website in regards to this trial, part of me believes that the person in question was someone working for the defense. And obviously, they would inform you that there was a question of whether or not the victim was asleep.

        Now as someone who has had multiple extended conversations over the last year with people involved in the case, there was absolutely no question of whether or not the victim had been asleep, when the assault occurred.



    2. davisgirl_530

      He was expelled from UC Davis, and he should be in jail. Once again, the legal system fails yet another young woman. The jurors should be ashamed of themselves. “[They] seemed to be relieved that their jury service was done for the year”. These people are nothing short of scum in my book. God forbid they, or anyone close to them is raped. But they will not understand the implications and effect that rape has on a person until it happens to them or someone they care about, and they have to go through this whole process, just to watch it fail them in the end.

      1. Napoleon Pig IV


        You said, referring to the jury, “These people are nothing short of scum in my book.” Have you ever been a juror?

        I’m very sympathetic to the young woman in this case, but I also think it’s worth observing how very difficult it can be to serve as a juror in certain types of criminal cases. I’ve been on two juries, one which found a defendant “not guilty” and one which found a defendant “guilty” of multiple charges. Both cases involved very, very serious discussion and debate, that at times became emotional, as each juror tried to balance the evidence and statements made by the prosecution and the defense in the context of the instructions given by the judge. It’s not easy – at all.

        I have many criticisms of the criminal justice system (and a lot of stupid laws) which I won’t go into here, but I have respect for the hard work that jurors do – at least the vast majority of them. No matter how much an ordinary citizen often wishes to avoid jury duty, there’s something that happens when you go back into the closed room to determine the fate of another human being that changes your attitude about your responsibility to honorably complete a serious and sometimes grim task.

    3. ryankelly

      Judicial Affairs would likely suspend the student, pending the trial.  Now that he was found not guilty, the student could be re-admitted.

      1. davisgirl_530

        No, because it was not a suspension, or just a normal dismissal, it was an expulsion. The university found him guilty according to UC Davis policies. That court case was completely independent of the criminal trial. So even though he was unfortunately found “not guilty” by the jury yesterday, UC Davis found him guilty according to their policies, so there is not a chance of readmission for him. So thankfully, the student body at Davis has no need to fear being in a classroom with him.

  1. davisgirl_530

    Tiffany Yeh, Prince Sahota, Misha Berman, and others whom it may concern,
    You all should be nothing short than ashamed of yourselves for these articles. In other words, I question what went through your minds that made you think it was acceptable to submit something like this, as well as who thought it was acceptable for something like this to be published.

    I question your intentions for interning for the Davis Vanguard Court Watch, and have been asking myself whether it was to expand your reporting capabilities because you are interested in pursuing a career in journalism, or if you wanted to get a better understanding of how our criminal justice system works (here’s a spoiler, it doesn’t), or whether this was just for fun.

    In case, your interests in interning for this organization stems from your interest in pursuing a career in journalism, I would strongly encourage you read the following short article by esteemed journalist, novelist, and professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Helen Benedict.


    I mention this article because I was outraged that you had the audacity to mention the victim’s name in your paper.  If you read the article, or even her book you’ll find that it provides important historical context, delving into matters of gender, race, culture, and language. She also identifies a number of “rape myths” that can warp the public debate and skew the decisions of journalists. Lastly, she examines those ingrained newsroom cultures, belief systems and professional practices that determine what editors and reporters do on stories about rape.

    Importantly, Benedict addresses whether rape is about sex or about violence. I would strongly encourage you to read the following passages from Benedict’s book.

    “Rape is best characterized as torture that uses sex as a weapon. Like a torturer, the rapist uses sexual acts to dominate, humiliate, and terrorize the victim.”

    “To deny the role of sexual humiliation in rape is to deny victims the horror of what they have been through. As long as people have any sense of privacy about sexual acts and the human body, rape will, therefore, carry a stigma, not necessarily a stigma that blames the victim for what happened to her, but a stigma that links her name irrevocably with an act of intimate humiliation.”

    “To name a rape victim is to guarantee that whenever somebody hears her name, that somebody will picture her in the act of being sexually tortured. To expose a rape victim to this without her consent is nothing short of punitive.”

    Shame on all of you for naming the victim, her sister, as well as their friend.

    Also, I question whether some of you happened to fall asleep during the trial, or perhaps you just did not care enough to actually pay attention to what was occurring in the court case? I’m specifically asking Misha Berman who refers to the victim’s sister as Amanda. How detached were you exactly, to make such a huge error in your article? The readers and I would love to hear what was going through your mind, to make you miss such a vital piece of information. After all you all thought it was acceptable to name the victim, but couldn’t even get another witness’s name correct? Again, how allowed your article to be published on the web?

    Tiffany Yeh,

    I specifically wanted to write to you yesterday regarding your butchered attempt at writing an article yesterday. Just as a forewarning, the public does not have a need to know the nitty gritty details of the rape acts the victim endured. Put yourself in the victim’s shoes for just a minute. Imagine, being raped, going through all the preceding court dates, testifying in front of strangers about one of the most traumatic moments of your life, and praying that you will never need to speak about it ever again. Now imagine, after all of that, your rapist goes free, no punishment whatsoever, and you’re expected to pick up the pieces of your now broken life and put them back together. Imagine coming home after the trial, and reading all of these articles about yourself and some random stranger’s opinion piece, because that’s what it was, an opinion piece, about the “poor little MAN from Rwanda who wanted nothing more than a college education, until some little college girl decided to report a false rape and take all that away from him” (obviously, this was not verbatim, but that’s how your article read to the general public).  I also want you to imagine finding out that some stranger thought it was perfectly acceptable to write out the most vulnerable and horrifying details of your rape on the internet with the same cut and dry tone someone would have when constructing a recipe for others. Need I remind you, she was raped? After being victimized by Ephrem, victimized and failed by the justice system, and now is she is victimized by you and the media? I hope you seriously re-evaluate your reporting style after this.

    You also mentioned the following line in this article: “Jurors declined to speak to the Vanguard and seemed to be relieved that their jury service was done for the year.” 

    Again, take a moment to think about how the victim will feel reading that line. That the jurors were “relieved” that their service in her case was done. Does this not bother you? That is what you should be writing about. The possibility that the jurors just wanted to get their service over with as soon as possible so they would be “done for the year”. The fact that they only deliberated about this violent crime for only 3 hours makes it seem that they did not do an adequate job of assessing the facts of this case and decided that a not guilty verdict would get them out of jury duty faster, and back to their lives “for the [rest of the] year”.

    Overall, I would also encourage you to read over your articles, out loud and notice the numerous mistakes you make with basic grammar, punctuation, and flow. Have some respect for the victim, and try a better job with reporting, than the jury did deliberating.




    1. Prince Sahota


      My name is Prince Sahota and I am an intern with the Davis Vanguard.  I entered the Davis Vanguard to study law which is an omnipresent part of all human lives whether those laws are political or personal in nature.  Further I have graduated from Deanza Community College with a Paralegal Certificate.  I want to study the way trials are conducted.  Please keep in mind that my role as an journalist is not not choose sides when I make summaries of trials.  I also have to be honest in my summary of eye witness testimony, lawyer arguments, and Judge comments.

      I would like to respond to the ideas of Helen Benedict, the journalist, novelist, and Professor at Columbia University as well as your criticisms.  i did not have the audacity to mention the victim’s name I recorded facts honestly and thoroughly as required by non-bias journalism.  Would you rather have me lie about the situation?  According to Helen Benedict”Rape is best characterized as torture that sex is used as a weapon.  Like a torturer the rapist uses domination, humiliate, and terrorize victims.  You know what she is right.  Please understand that we are in a trial and we must find out even if their was a rape.  Don’t infer the opposite that I am blaming the victim.  I mean to say that neither I, the lawyers, judge or jury know what happened and have to learn the facts of this case.  You are making assumptions before you looked at court facts and evidence.

      According to Helen Benedict denying the role of sexual humiliation following the rape is to deny the horror of what victims have gone through.  So, when I read this I thought the humiliation included reliving the facts of the assault and the exam in a room full of people you do not know.  i have to summarize DNA evidence of the Defendant obtained during the exam, because it is an element of this case.  I will be not made guilty for respecting science.

      Lastly it is not my place to choose sides in any case i write about.  I record language.  That is it.

      What is interesting is that i have in my writing arguments by Prosecutor Hayes condemning the defendant, yet you don’t even want to talk about that.  Right I am a sexist person for being more honest than other people can be.  I always thought it is great to make informed decisions.

      1. davisgirl_530

        Prince Sahota,

        The reality of this, is that I do know all the court facts and evidence. I have worked with the victim over this last year since she was raped, so I am not making any assumptions. I am reporting facts, due to my involvement with this case. Perhaps you did not mention the victim’s name, but you did in fact mention her sister’s name. Anyone with adequate knowledge of google and facebook would able to find the actual victim. This news source didn’t even bother to redact the names until we called them this morning. All other news sources at least had the decency to redact the names prior to publishing any statements. In regards to the Helen Benedict article, it was not directed towards you directly, but just for some light reading that I thought would be beneficial considering Tiffany’s article printed yesterday that broke down the rape acts detail by minuscule detail that the public had no need to know.

        So I reread your two articles on this page for about the 10th time today, and I must be very blind because nowhere do I see the prosecutor condemning the defendant. If you would be so kind to point this out to me, I will gladly have a discourse about it.

        Nowhere in my comments have I called you a racist, I just wish you would perhaps be a little more sensitive in your reports. Please don’t forget that this is a girl’s life that was ruined that you are talking about in your reports. Also, since it is not your responsibility to “choose sides” I would love to know why the Vanguard is so focused on the defendant and leaning more in his defense from the very beginning of this trial.

        1. Prince Sahota


          In the Wednesday Testimony article: Prosecutor Hays cross exams the defendant who admits to hearing  victim say you don’t f-girls who are sleeping

          By the closing arguments: Prosecutor Hays noted the defendant’s conspiracy to use his life to overshadow the crime.  Prosecutor Hays noted the DNA evidence which proved that the defendant committed a sexual act.  She accepted that the victim did not experience serious injury.  Prosecutor Hays warned that victims of sexual assault who were unconscious don’t experience injury, because force does not have to be used.  She stated that criminals, implying the defendant justify their crime this way.

          I guess Prosecutor Hays didn’t blame the defendant, yet Hays wanted the jury to infer the defendant’s guilt.  It is possible that they did not pay attention to this.

          Lastly, I will stop using victim names in sexual assault trials and other cases.  I will also read the article written by Helen Benedict to better understand victim experiences.


          Prince Sahota


        2. Tia Will


          I have worked with the victim over this last year since she was raped, so I am not making any assumptions. I am reporting facts, due to my involvement with this case. “

          I have not followed this case closely and so am only commenting on how I see the situation in the various posts. Taking that into consideration, I would like to make this observation. You have stated that you have worked with the victim over this last year and on that basis you are reporting the “facts”. Since you do not say that you have also “worked with the accused” I can only assume that you are accepting the victims words as “fact” and not her interpretation of what occurred. Were we to use only this standard, we have seen the conviction of AJ Dev and would have seen the conviction of the man accused of inappropriately propositioning a young teen.

          I have had the experience of seeing in my clinic many women who have accused men of rape. Some have stood by their claims. Some have subsequently refuted them. What they present with their accounts are not “fact” but their recollection and interpretation of events. The “facts” are what is found on exam. DNA, extent of trauma if any, presence or absence of semen and the like. Both the accuser and the accused in rape cases have their version of events. Neither version is “fact” but often reflects the very real subjectivity of human memory.

          I have no doubt that this young woman’s life has suffered significantly from this event. This could also be said of the man accused. I had a very close friend, now a doctor, who was falsely accused of rape and fortunately had his accuser recant and admit that the contact had been consensual before this event destroyed certainly his, and potentially both their lives. This is not a simple straightforward situation and should not be seen as such regardless of one’s confidence in the veracity of either individual.

    1. davisgirl_530


      Believe me, I will be more than happy and willing to break down why Ephrem Rukundo is guilty of rape in just a few hours, as soon as I finish my 12 page paper for my final, so stay tuned.

    2. humanperson


      The court found him not guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This doesn’t mean that he was not actually guilty of the crime, it means that they could not be 100% certain of the crime in order to convict him. The law is designed to have leniency so that those accused are innocent until proven guilty. The problem therein with most rape cases, is that the facts of the case rest on hearsay and people who may be criminals might walk free.

      It is essential not to assume that because the defendant was found not guilty in the court of law that they are actually innocent. “Not guilty” does not equate innocence. They still may have committed the crime, we don’t know, we can’t be certain, and neither could the jury. However, it seems ironic that we the people would not then effort the same sort of leniency on the victim by assuming that they are also innocent. We act as though the outcome of the case means that now the guilt has shifted onto the prosecution and that the victim should now be blamed, called out by name, and ridiculed online. In the event that someone was raped, which we may never be 100% certain short of having video evidence, and their offender was found not guilty, do we really want to present them with a world in which they are now assumed to be lying and their offender is now portrayed as a victim?


      1. ryankelly

        No one is saying that the victim is guilty of wrong-doing.   All that was determined was that the allegations of rape were unproven.  There was sex, yes, even regret about engaging in sex, but not rape.

      2. quielo

        This is the first I have ever heard of this case being new to Davis. I am interested in the case and have no opinion on which side is right. The Jury seems to think it was clear given the short time they were away.

  2. Frankly

    In the heat of the moment, hormones (sometimes mixed with alcohol and/or drugs) surge and sometimes overwhelm judgement.  Then after hormones (and intoxication) subside and judgement returns, there can be regret.   And when there is regret there is sometimes a human impulse to seek retribution for it.

    It sounds to me like the jury determined that this was most likely a regret and retribution situation.

    I would hope that both parties learn from this to make sure neither are in a position where they would both be responsible for such bad judgement in the future.

    1. davisgirl_530


      This was not a consensual hookup due to “hormones” that the victim later regretted. This was rape. The victim was asleep when the defendant made the conscious decision to rape the girl. False rape claims are far and few between. I am going to assume that you have never been sexually assaulted, or known someone close to you that has been sexually assaulted and then went on to report it. You have no idea what a victim of sexual assault has to go through before their case even reaches a jury trial, and I hope you never will. It is one of the worst things a person can go through that scars you, and stays with you for the rest of your life.

      And how dare you say that the rapist AND the victim should “make sure they are not in a position where they would be responsible for such bad judgement in the future”? She was asleep, in the safety of her friend’s house. How was she supposed to know that this man was going to rape her? She is of legal drinking age, it was not a frat party or rager, it was a party, with friends. None of this was her fault. Maybe you should hope that someone manages to put this man away before he goes and rapes another girl. Because now he knows he can rape someone and get away with it, even though the victim did all the right steps in reporting what happened.

      1. ryankelly

        The jury found her allegation that she was unconcious unbelievable or at least unproved.

        This is the second recent trial where people claim to be assaulted after falling asleep after a party on a couch or on a bed in the man’s room.  I know that this is not consent, but why stay?  Why not go home when the party ends?

        1. humanperson

          You stay because its your best friends house. You stay because you have a dozen times before. You stay because its safer then walking home in the wee hours of the morning by yourself.

        2. ryankelly

          I’m not saying this at all.  But in both cases there was testimony that the victim engaged in encouraging the sex, pulling the offender toward her, even kissing the offender, etc., then claiming to be asleep the whole time.   Maybe sleeping at home would be a safer option from the viewpoint of the woman.   In both cases, the men jumped at the opportunity to have sex and needed little encouragement.  It is a decision that both are now paying for.

        3. South of Davis

          humanperson wrote:

          > You stay because its safer then walking home in the

          > wee hours of the morning by yourself.

          Sounds like we should tell girls that it is worth the $5 to have Uber drive you home if you are drunk and about to pass out…

  3. mtffriend

    First thing’s first – “not guilty” DOES NOT mean innocent.


    I am heartbroken for TA and appalled at the “justice system.” This is a predator who assaulted a sleeping woman – his “not guilty” verdict is just going to embolden him to attack another woman because he got away with it once. Mark my words, he is not going to be a one-time offender if he hasn’t already done this in the past.


    I am also appalled at the Vanguard for naming the victim. Shame on you. I am also horrified by the excuse/justification/delusion that TA accused him of rape because [she was] “possibly motivated to hide her affair with the defendant because she was in a relationship, and she had a sexual encounter with her friend’s new date.” So someone who wanted to “hide her affair” would go through all of this pain and trauma of making it public? To be questioned about everything she did that day and every other day? To get called a lair and an attention-seeker? Only to get no justice? And you people wonder why victims don’t come forward – it’s because they get shamed and blamed and usually never see justice for their assaults.


    Tell me again rape culture doesn’t exist.

  4. janice_e

    Why would this girl endure a year-long legal process, go through invasive medical testing, a police investigation, repeatedly being asked to provide explicit details about her assault (which then ended up online with her name attached– nice going, Davis Vanguard), and put her life on hold to go to court if she was lying about the whole thing? She had nothing to gain but justice for the man who assaulted her.

    1. quielo

      Why bother having trials at all under this standard? Convict all the accused under the theory that someone would not make an accusation unless true.

      1. The Pugilist

        Exactly.  The Vanguard doesn’t generally print names of victims or even witnesses, have to think that this slipped through with an inexperienced intern.  It appears they have pulled the names down now

  5. ryankelly

    Because once the process is started, it is difficult to stop.  Sometimes the system creates more harm than the act itself.  Sometimes the outcome does not give the sense of satisfaction that is being sought.

    It sounds like the defendant has been expelled from his Graduate program, has been through a difficult trial, and is going to trial in a few weeks for misdemeano DUI.  Is prison the only outcome that the victim wants?

    1. The Pugilist

      Good question Ryan.  To me a restorative process is the best way to handle these kinds of situations because it hopefully remedies the mistake.

        1. The Pugilist

          A good restorative justice process would correct the harms in a much more constructive way.  Right now our system is throw someone in prison – sometimes that’s the right approach thing to do, but often it is really the first step and the rest of the steps are never entered.

  6. The Pugilist

    Barack Palin: You found this case interesting.  But you also had to know that liberals are not united on the issues that you cite.  There are those who want tougher sexual assault laws.  The problem you get with tougher laws is you still have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that what is alleged occurred.  A lot of prosecutors used to refuse to charge these cases because they couldn’t prove them, now I fear that there is pressure to bring most of these cases to trial.  This one appears to be in that gray area.  Given how quickly the jury took to acquit, they must have believed that there wasn’t evidence.

    1. Barack Palin

      I have no doubt that if the accused had been a white male from a well to do family instead of a foreign black male student that the narrative from the comments would be quite different.

      1. South of Davis

        BP wrote:

        > I have no doubt that if the accused had been a white

        > male from a well to do family

        I’m surprised that David even covered the story since the typical Vanguard story has the black guy as the “victim”.


        If David gets called out for acting like a racist he can at least say that he did not mention the race of Rukundo or post his photo in any of the Vanguard articles (that I have seen)

  7. nameless

    The following observations may not sit well with some folks, but here goes.  If I understand the situation correctly, this was a party with friends at someone’s house.  Everyone became intoxicated, and many decided to sleep over until the next morning.  The alleged victim in the case slept on a couch rather than in a locked bedroom.

    There is no question a woman should not be raped under any circumstances.  But unfortunately the message we send young women is they have the RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM HARM which makes them feel they are free to engage in any risky behaviors they choose without consequences, but fail to follow up with the caveat BUT DO NOT PUT YOURSELF IN HARM’S WAY FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY.  And the reality is that in situations like this, it is a “he said, she said” situation that will be difficult to prove without some sort of overt evidential signs of physical violence.  Young women need to clearly understand the burden of proof in a rape case is ON THE ALLEGED VICTIM, making date rape or an alleged rape case as the situation described above extremely difficult to prove.  Secondly, the alleged victim will be raped twice, once by the alleged perpetrator, and then by the legal system by having to relive the assault in vivid detail and have their version of events vigorously dissected by the defense.

    I am not even remotely suggesting blaming the victim here.  Just as I would advise people not to walk down a dark alley at night because they might get mugged, I would advise young women to be more cautious about where they sleep after becoming inebriated.  If a person walks down a dark alley at night and gets mugged, it is not their “fault”, but the crime needn’t have happened.  If a woman gets drunk at a friend’s coed party, she should sleep behind closed locked doors with other female friends.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    I truly feel for this alleged victim.  There will be lifelong consequences made that much worse because her alleged perpetrator was found not guilty.  Things will not be a picnic for him either, by the way… such a tragedy.

  8. WesC

    The alleged sexual assault occurred from 3:30-3:45, and exam of the victim began at 04:12. Both the DA and defense agreed victim’s consciousness was not impaired nor was she under the influence of any drugs per the toxicology report.  The victim remained asleep during the assault and only woke up after it was over. How does anyone not impaired remain asleep while someone else removes their underwear, orally copulates them, vaginally penetrates them, and then puts their underwear back on them?

    1. UCDgrad

      @WesC and @Tia Will

      These articles do not report her testimony. She testified that she was asleep when the assault BEGAN, was disoriented and confused so it took her a bit to realize what was happening and then fully woke up and yelled/pushed him off of her.


      Here is an article that actually explains her testimony NOT just his defense (which he said after hearing her testimony)


      It is pretty clear that she did not sleep through the entire thing but instead woke up as it was happening which is very reasonable, especially considering she was fast asleep after a long night.

  9. Tia Will

    The victim remained asleep during the assault and only woke up after it was over. How does anyone not impaired remain asleep while someone else removes their underwear, orally copulates them, vaginally penetrates them, and then puts their underwear back on them?”

    I believe that WesC may have hit upon the key to “reasonable doubt” on the part of the jury. As an ob/gyn I have encountered many women who have made an accusation of rape. While it may be unusual for a woman to make a false claim regarding her degree of consent, it is not a rare event, and women have subsequently shared with me a number of reasons for their recounting of the event in the manner that they chose. What I have never encountered in 30 years of practice is a woman whose claim was that she remained asleep ( not unconscious due to alcohol or drugs) but asleep, through a series of sexual acts. This is in no way meant to say that it could not occur, merely that I have never encountered it. If I were on a jury, would probably weigh the probability of this being a full and accurate remembrance of what happened with a degree of skepticism.

    1. Barack Palin

      “She’s jolted awake when she feels a penetration in her vagina,” Deputy District Attorney Deanna Hays told the nine-woman, three-man jury chosen to hear the Yolo Superior Court case. A subsequent medical exam yielded DNA that showed “there’s no question Mr. Rukundo is the person she woke up to having sex with her.” 

      I guess Tia missed this part of the article posted above.


      1. Tia Will


        I think that Tia was missing much more than just that sentence. What the jury had that I did not have access to was the actual testimony and full argument  of the case as presented by the lawyers. Therefore my comment was not about the correctness of the decision, but only a speculation about the possibility of “reasonable doubt”.

        Another issue that may have been addressed elsewhere is that of the possibility of cultural misunderstanding. In my younger, wilder and much more naive days, I was frequently adrift in my van between places to stay. When I arrived without a living place already established in Isla Vista, I met a student from Iran who happened to be male, and had a one bedroom apartment with double beds. He offered me the use of one of his beds until I could find my own place. Not reading more into the offer than that, I accepted. I was quite surprised when I discovered that by accepting the offer, in his mind I was also accepting a sexual relationship. This was an honest mistake on both of our parts and I am not sure who was the more surprised or chagrined. Our arrangement ended amicably with me back in my van.

        I am not saying that this in any way relates to the current case, except that is possible for there to be an honest misunderstanding about when consent has been given. The absence of “yes” verbally, when a clear behavioral “yes” from the individual’s cultural perspective has been given can create confusion. Not everyone who comes here to study has exactly the same understanding as I found out to my embarrassment in the middle of the night many years ago.

        1. David Greenwald

          I was told by a few people who watched her testimony that it wasn’t convincing. That doesn’t mean it’s true, but the jury clearly wasn’t convinced and they made the decision very quickly. And they were not split on the issue as we saw with the Lang Her trial that had multiple hung juries.

  10. UCDgrad

    I highly encourage everyone who has commented here to read the articles written by the davis enterprise such as 

    These articles do a clear job of explaining both testimonies, rather then these articles which make little or no mention of what she reported MULTIPLE TIMES to the initial reporting officer, trauma nurse, detective assigned to the case, preliminary hearing and twice during this trial. He testified with this story once after hearing her testimony a number of times. Please think long and hard about what she actually said happen and all the steps she went through after the initial reporting.

      1. UCDgrad

        Even if the jury believed her story there may not have been enough evidence to convict him beyond reasonable doubt due to the nature of the crime. Simple as that. Not guilty does not mean he didn’t do it but that there was not enough evidence which is very hard to get in this kind of case since it is a matter of two people’s words. Even though she did go get a rape kit done right after it happened and seemed to be consistent with her story, apparently that was not enough evidence to completely say he did it

        1. nameless

          Not guilty does not mean he didn’t do it but that there was not enough evidence which is very hard to get in this kind of case since it is a matter of two people’s words.”


  11. Frankly

    Given the risk to both sexes and the difficulty to prove rape in these cases, it seems logical to to never have two people of the oposite sex sleeping in any proximity to each other after having any alcohol.

  12. WesC

    Jury decisions are often more about how much the jury members see the alleged victim and defendant as warm and likable and less about the facts. My bet is that TA maybe did not come across as a very warm and likable person that they could identify with, whereas the defendants story of his hardships in Rwanda and making it to grad school in the land of milk and honey pulled at their heartstrings.

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