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USU rape suspect sentenced to 105 days in jail in sexual assault case

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UPDATE: Scott R. Simmons, 22, was sentenced in Logan’s 1st District Court on Monday by Judge Kevin Allen to 105 days in jail with work release, and community service.

Prosecutors were asking for 180 days in jail with work release and community service in a plea deal approved by the victim. 

Simmons was originally charged with 1st degree felony rape and 2nd degree felony forcible sex abuse. The rape charge was dismissed in the plea deal.

————–ONE OF THREE ORIGINAL STORIES———–

LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – The man accused of raping one of his classmates at Utah State University more than two years ago entered a plea of “not guilty” Tuesday in a Logan courtroom.

Scott Simmons, 20, is charged with forcible sexual abuse and rape. His accuser, Alison Berg, claims in September 2015 she and Simmons met at a party and he raped her shortly after. 

Berg took the stand in a preliminary hearing to testify about the alleged incident. 

In her testimony, she claims she and some friends had taken several shots of Fireball and had smoked marijuana before attending a dry Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity party on USU’s campus. She said it was common for students to “pre-game” or get intoxicated before such an event, because campus activities are supposed to be alcohol-free. 

She said she met Simmons, who claimed previously she flirted with him at the party. Berg testified she and Simmons texted each other and she invited him to “come hang out” with her and her friends. She said Simmons indicated he would rather go on a walk. She said she agreed to meet with him. 

Berg testified she met up with Simmons and they began to kiss. Shortly after the kissing, Berg said Simmons forced himself on her and began to have sex with her, even though she says she did not consent. 

She also argued she could not consent in her impaired state. 

Defense attorney Clayton Simms cross-examined Berg, asking her why she and Simmons remained in contact after the alleged incident. Berg said she and Simmons lived at the same apartment complex. They exchanged text messages after the incident, and even matched on Tinder, according to the defense, who showed the judge screen shots of the match. Berg also pressed Simmons about whether she got in trouble with the University or law enforcement for underage drinking or marijuana distribution. She said no one indicated to her she would be in trouble. Berg also testified her grades that semester had slipped as an indirect result of the alleged incident, and the school helped her expunge those classes from her record. The defense argued she benefited from reporting the alleged rape to authorities and tried to establish that as one of her reasons for accusing Simmons. 

Berg recorded a phone conversation she had with Simmons that was played in court Tuesday. In that conversation, Simmons repeatedly stated that the two never had sex when Berg asked him to walk her through the events of that September night. “We did not freaking have sex!,” Simmons said to Berg, getting emotional on the phone.

Simmons is heard begging his accuser to not get police involved. In the recording, Simmons also tells Berg how sorry he is that he “took advantage of you.” In the recording, Simmons said he was unable to sleep for three days after the alleged incident. He also said he became more religious after, attending the LDS Church on USU’s campus. Simmons asks him in the recording why he continued to push for sex after she said “no.” He responds by saying he was “stupid” and “horny.” In another portion of the recording, Simmons repeats the two did not have sex that night, to which Berg replies “I agree.” 

Asked if Simmons is being recorded, Berg responds the conversation is not being recorded and that she is just trying to “process all of this.” 

Also in the recording, Simmons admits to taking his own audio recording of their walk back to her dorm after the alleged incident. 

In April of 2017, Berg spoke to USU campus police about the incident. Sgt. Jessica Spencer testified she interviewed Berg about the alleged incident. He was arrested and charged with rape shortly after. 

Defense attorney Clayton Simms is now pushing for that audio recording to be suppressed from trial. A hearing to discuss that will be held Jan. 2. 

ABC4 Utah spoke to Simms following the preliminary hearing. 

“We can’t confuse religious guilt and moral guilt with criminal guilt, he felt bad because he’s very religious and he knew he shouldn’t have done that unless he was married to her,” said Simms. “He said in a recording ‘I didn’t sexually assault you, I didn’t rape you.’ She agreed with that.”

Berg also spoke with ABC4 Utah but did not want to discuss case specifics. 

“It was a nerve-racking experience having to relive something like this. Nerve-racking,but it’s kind of like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” she said. Shortly after taking the stand, Berg cried on the shoulders of her boyfriend and father, who were in court with her. 

Simmons remains a student at USU. 

In 2016, USU Police received 14 reports of rape on campus or on campus student housing. Officials there said five of those are from incidents that occured in previous years. Eight more incidents of rape that did not occur on campus were also reported to USU Police.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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