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Friday, November 28, 2014

Attorney: Was rape accusation racist?

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By William Aranda / New Mexico Daily Lobo

UNM senior running back Crusoe Gongbay celebrates a touchdown he made during the game against Colorado State at University Stadium on Nov 16, 2013. The rape charges against Gongbay, UNM redshirt senior cornerback SaQwan Edwards and CNM student Ryan Ruff were dropped by the District Attorney’s office.

Videos shown by an attorney to several media outlets may suggest that a woman who accused two UNM football players and a CNM student of raping her may have been the sexual aggressor.

On Tuesday, attorney George Anthony Bleus played the videos after rape charges against UNM running back Crusoe Gongbay and CNM student Ryan Ruff were dropped by the District Attorney’s office.

Gongbay and Ruff were accused of raping a female UNM student along with a third suspect, Lobo cornerback SaQwan Edwards. Ruff was accused of raping the woman at gunpoint.

District Attorney spokesperson Kayla Anderson said all charges against Gongbay, Ruff and Edwards have been dropped.

Anderson said the prosecutors can refile charges if any more evidence is found, and in a statement UNM said it is continuing the investigation.

At a press conference, Bleus showed local media the videos that he said demonstrate the alleged victim may have been the sexual aggressor.

Bleus told the media that the videos were just a few of those that he has obtained. Most are “so sexually explicit and salacious” that they couldn’t be shown, he said.

The attorney also questioned whether the victim’s motives were racially motivated: the victim is white, while the three accused are black.

“It’s too simple these days to just blame the black guy,” Bleus told the media, adding that it is one the reasons he took the case for free. Bleus is black.

Bleus, who represents Ruff, said the videos were taken on the night of the alleged rape and are dated and time-stamped. The videos contradict the story given to UNM police by the woman, who said she was gang-raped in a BMW.

Bleus showed the media sworn depositions from five witnesses that contradict the statements made in the criminal complaint, he said.

“I’m just relieved that it’s over — well, not over,” Ruff said during a news conference. “I just want my dignity back.”

When the charges were issued, Edwards and Gongbay were suspended indefinitely from the team by UNM head football coach Bob Davie. In a statement, Sports Information Director Frank Mercogliano said, “When and if there is a change in the status of SaQwan Edwards and Crusoe Gongbay, we will let all the appropriate parties know. Any change in their status would come from coach Davie in consultation with Vice President of Athletics Paul Krebs.”

Edwards and Gongbay remain suspended from the team at press time.

In a statement, UNM spokesperson Dianne Anderson said the University is still continuing its criminal investigation and the school’s Office of Equal Opportunity is conducting a separate investigation to determine whether any student conduct violations occurred.

Thomas Romero-Salas is the sports editor of the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at sports@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @ThomasRomeroS.