SAN DIEGO — Warning: Please note this article and video both contain mentions and images of violence, rape and sexual assault that can be disturbing.
The young woman accusing five San Diego State University football players of rape during an off-campus party last year has released photos and video of injuries she says she suffered during the attack.
The young woman spoke exclusively to CBS 8 on Thursday and has approved the release of the images.
CBS 8 agreed not to identify the young woman, who turned age 18 this month, because she is an alleged victim of rape.
The alleged victim said she was attacked in a bedroom of an off-campus house in the late evening of October 16, during a Halloween party. At the time, the alleged victim was a minor. She said she arrived at the party with three friends and she was already intoxicated.
“I know I was not at fault. I know being a 17-year-old girl, almost unconscious 90% of the time in a room with several guys, bloody, and going in and out of consciousness is not something that was consensual,” she said.
Following her initial interview, the alleged victim released photos and video to CBS 8 depicting injuries to her neck and legs that she said were the result of the assault. She also released video of a bloodied Halloween costume.
Veteran criminal attorney Gretchen von Helms agreed to look at the images, though she is not involved in the case.
Because the woman was a minor at the time of the alleged attack, von Helms said consent and/or knowledge that the girl was underage would not be a factor into a decision to bring criminal charges.
“It does not matter if they knew or not that she was a minor. They can charge what's called statutory rape of all the men in the room, because she was a minor and they were not. It's a misdemeanor if they're within three years of her age, and it's a felony if they're over three years of her age,” von Helms said.
More serious felony charges could be filed if the girl was intoxicated, or if force was involved in the alleged assault, the attorney said.
The alleged victim reported the crime to San Diego police two days later, and underwent sexual assault DNA testing at the hospital. The results of the DNA testing have not been made public.
“Semen lives within the body of a woman for three days,” said von Helms. “They can say, ‘Oh, I wasn't the guy.’ But if their DNA is in her and she is a minor, there's no defense to that."
During the exam, investigators asked the teenager if the injuries on her neck were strangulation marks or hickeys. She said she could not remember because details of the alleged attack were hazy.
“If they're hickeys is still doesn't matter, because she's under the age of 18. So, it doesn't matter if she said, ‘Oh, yeah, give me 20 hickeys.’ It doesn't matter. They can be charged with rape of a minor because it's a statutory crime,” said von Helms.
CBS 8 asked the attorney her opinion as to why the SDPD investigation has stretched on for more than nine months with no criminal charges being filed.
“It may be that the investigation is taking so long because they are star athletes, and they want to give them the benefit of the doubt. And so, they're probably being very careful in obtaining all the evidence that's necessary to arrest them and charge them with felony crimes,” von Helms said.
The attorney acknowledged, however, that no person should receive special treatment from investigators, which is one of the reasons why the teenager said she decided to speak out.
“It scares me to know that these students are still at this school. I just really fear for what could happen if they never face any consequences for what they did,” the young woman said.
Watch Related: Teen accusing San Diego State football players of rape speaks out (Jul 28, 2022)