Attorney: Rape case client vindicated by decision

One day after the District Attorney’s Office filed official notice that three young men who had been accused of rape would not be prosecuted due to insufficient evidence, the attorney for one of them told reporters his client was finally vindicated.

Attorney George Anthony Bleus, left, sits back Wednesday while his client, CNM student Ryan Ruff, tells reporters how relieved he is to be vindicated. The District Attorney's Office decided not to pursue charges against Ruff and two UNM football players who were accused of gang-raping a young woman in April. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)
Attorney George Anthony Bleus, left, sits back Wednesday while his client, CNM student Ryan Ruff, tells reporters how relieved he is to be vindicated. The District Attorney’s Office decided not to pursue charges against Ruff and two UNM football players who were accused of gang-raping a young woman in April. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

George Anthony Bleus represents Ryan Ruff, a Central New Mexico Community College student who was accused of gang-raping a 19-year-old UNM student in April. Also accused were University of New Mexico football players Crusoe Gongbay and SaQwan Edwards.

“I’m just blessed at the end of the day,” said Ruff, who hopes one day to join the UNM football squad.

Bleus thanked several witnesses for their courage in coming forward to testify. “People hear the word ‘rape’ and everyone runs the other way,” he said.

In a brief statement Wednesday, District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said, “After reviewing the evidence in the alleged sexual assault case, our office has determined not to move forward with the criminal prosecution of the three defendants. We have determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before a jury or a judge.”

Bleus had previously released video of the woman engaged in sex acts with at least one of the accused, as well as others. He also shared sworn testimony by several witnesses that she was a sexual aggressor throughout the night in question, even before the three accused entered the picture.

Asked what evidence the district attorney referred to in her statement, a spokeswoman responded by email: “We are not able to comment on the evidence that was considered.”

Bleus reiterated his previous allegations that the woman fabricated the story.

Even though the state will not pursue the case, the records of the three young men still show that they were arrested and jailed on rape charges. Bleus said New Mexico has no mechanism or formal procedure for removing such records, but added that prosecutors have referred him to the state attorney general to seek an equitable solution.

A second, non-criminal investigation is ongoing at UNM to determine whether anyone involved in the incident broke any university rules of conduct. Should that investigation find that Gongbay, Edwards or any student – including the woman – violated any rules, disciplinary action could be taken. According to her attorney, the woman has left school, but could decide to return.

That investigation looks at a “preponderance of evidence,” a lower standard than the “beyond reasonable doubt” criterion of a criminal investigation.

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