Ten of 12 young men charged in the investigation of several alleged rapes at or near Jacksonville State University each opted this month and last to waive preliminary hearings, sending their cases to a Calhoun County grand jury for review.
Throughout September, authorities charged 11 men with second-degree rape, all involving one victim, and one man with second-degree sodomy involving a second victim. The men range in age from 18 to 22. It is unknown how many of them are Jacksonville State University students.
A Calhoun-Cleburne Major Crimes Unit investigator told The Star in September the charges stemmed from six reported rapes listed in the university’s online crime log.
According to the crime log, the incidents happened on campus at Dixon Hall, Meehan Hall, Sparkman Hall and in the Rowe Hall parking lot and off campus on Mountain Street.
Five men charged with second-degree rape and the man charged with second-degree sodomy told waived their preliminary hearings on Monday in front of District Court Judge Randy Moeller.
Four other men charged with second-degree rape opted in late September and early October to have their hearings waived.
The court documents of two other men charged in the case have since been removed from an online database of state court records.
Lauren Ledbetter, the defense attorney of one of the men charged, said her client, like the others, is just going through the legal process. According to Ledbetter, a preliminary hearing is the first step in that process. Until the men are convicted, Ledbetter said, they are all presumed innocent.
Bill Hawkins, the attorney of another man, said waiving his preliminary hearing was the smart thing to do. Because Hawkins’ client made that decision, he said, they now have access to the state’s evidence.
Bill Broome, the attorney of a third man, said he had already concluded his investigation of the case, and saw no need for his client to go through a preliminary hearing.
Attempts to reach the attorneys of other men involved in the case were unsuccessful.