REGION – A state appeals court panel has ruled that a group of former San Diego State football players accused of raping a 17-year-old girl may use a series of sexually graphic videos allegedly depicting the encounter as part of their legal defense.
Thursday’s ruling concerns the ongoing lawsuit which alleges the young woman was gang raped by the men at an off-campus house party in October 2021. The videos in question are each less than a minute long and allegedly were shot in the bedroom where the woman says she was raped.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Matthew Braner ruled last year that the defendants could have access to the videos under limited circumstances in order to mount their defense.
The woman’s attorneys opposed the videos’ release, arguing they should not be shared because they constitute child pornography. Her attorneys appealed Braner’s order under the same arguments, that copying and producing the videos for the defendants violates California’s laws prohibiting the publication and distribution of child pornography.
A three-justice panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeal denied her request, writing that “it is undisputed that the videos are relevant evidence that may support or undermine (Jane) Doe’s claims against the defendants.”
They also noted Braner’s order states the videos would only be used “for a very limited purpose” and would be destroyed at the conclusion of the case.
Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against the players and late last year, a settlement was reached to dismiss punter Matt Araiza from the lawsuit. As part of the settlement, Araiza agreed to dismiss a defamation countersuit he filed against the woman.
The civil case remains ongoing against four other ex-Aztecs, with a status hearing in the case scheduled for next week.