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July 17, 2007

Gophers CB Jones released on bail

MINNEAPOLIS A Minnesota cornerback, accused of raping a woman that investigators say had consumed so much alcohol she was physically helpless, was released from jail Tuesday just hours after a court appearance.

Dominic Jones, 20, is charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from the April 3 incident which investigators say was captured on video by a cell phone.

At his first court appearance, bail was set at $25,000 and Jones was ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim or with two witnesses in the case. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill also said Jones, of Columbus, Ohio, must abide by the law, make court appearances and check in with a probation officer.

Jones wore an orange prison outfit in court and appeared at the window of an enclosed area. He answered "Yes, sir," and "No, sir," when addressed by the judge. He later walked out of jail wearing a gray T-shirt.

No plea was entered Tuesday, but Jones' attorney, Earl Gray, said he would defend the charge.

"He would like to continue his schooling, get a college degree and get on with his life," Gray told the court. Jones is in his third year at the university.

Gophers coach Tim Brewster said in a statement Monday that Jones has been suspended from the team. He has not been suspended from school.

Three other Gophers remain suspects in the case, which began in April after an 18-year-old woman said she had been raped at an apartment complex near campus. Defensive end Alex Daniels, cornerback Keith Massey and running back E.J. Jones all were arrested and questioned in April. They were not charged, but are still suspended from the football team.

According to the criminal complaint, the woman went to the apartment complex with a friend and some Gopher players. The woman drank heavily and had sex with E.J. Jones, Massey and Daniels before passing out.

Dominic Jones arrived later, the complaint says, and had sex with the woman while Daniels recorded the encounter on his cell phone. The file had been deleted from the phone, but investigators recovered a part of it.

The woman's blood-alcohol level was estimated at least 0.30 percent by a doctor who reviewed the case, according to the criminal complaint. The estimate was based on the woman's size and descriptions of the amount of alcohol consumed.

The criminal complaint also says DNA evidence connects Dominic Jones to the woman.

"I realize it's not pretty," Gray said of the complaint, but he added that there was no alleged force, no weapon and no injuries.

In arguing that Jones be released, Gray also noted that Jones has no prior record. Judge Cahill said that factored into his decision to grant bail.

Dominic Jones is one of the Gophers' best defensive players. He's started 20 straight games over the last two seasons and is considered a fiery competitor with a knack for making big hits despite being just 5 feet 8.

Last season Dominic Jones had two interceptions and 82 tackles, a high number for a cornerback. He also emerged as a standout kick returner, leading the Big Ten with a 23.0-yard average and returning one 99 yards for a touchdown against Cal.

He went to the same high school in Columbus as Daniels and Massey, who is Dominic Jones' half brother.

Gray told the court that Jones' mother, uncle and other family members came to Minnesota from Columbus. The family members shared hugs after the hearing and left without speaking to reporters.

"Anybody would be afraid - being charged with what he's charged with," Gray said of his client. "And he is."

Jones' next court appearance was set for Aug. 6.

For more coverage of Minnesota, visit GopherIllustrated.com.



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