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Purdue student found not guilty of rape

A Purdue student accused of rape is acquitted of his charges despite the fact he admitted to having sex with a woman who thought he was someone else.

Posted: Feb. 6, 2018 6:37 PM
Updated: Feb. 6, 2018 11:44 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — A Purdue student accused of rape is acquitted of his charges despite the fact he admitted to having sex with a woman who thought he was someone else.

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"Just because something is not right doesn't make it a crime," said Lafayette Attorney Kirk Freeman. He represented Donald Ward during his rape trial last week. A Tippecanoe County jury found ward was not guilty of the crime. 

In Indiana, a person charged with rape had to knowingly or intentionally cause another person to perform or submit to sexual conduct in one of three ways.

"One is force, one is mentally disabled or mentally deficient," said Freeman. 

The third is being unaware the sex is occurring. Prosecutors said that's what happened to a Purdue student when she thought she was having sex with her boyfriend but later discovered it was Donald Ward.

"She unzipped my boy's pants and knew what she was doing, she wasn't unaware of the sex," said Freeman. 

According to court documents, Ward said it was dark. He admitted to getting in bed with the woman when her boyfriend left the room. He told police he knew she thought he was her boyfriend because quote, "She got very close to me."

"She thought that it was her boyfriend," said News 18's Kayla Sullivan during an interview with Freeman. "That's not rape," responded Freeman. "That's not rape just in the fact that lots of women this weekend are going to have sex with Navy Seals, going to have sex with football heroes, going to have sex with guys that rescue kittens from the middle of the interstate, and are going to have sex with men who tell them I love you and I'm ready for a commitment. Just because they are lying or being deceptive doesn't make it rape."

Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington said, "Even though Indiana does not have a rape by deception law, the victim was brave in coming forward and testifying in court, knowing the legal obstacles with Indiana's current statute, and in bringing attention to this morally wrong act. I will reach out to our state legislators to improve the law."

Kirk Freeman is against a rape by deception law.

"It's repugnant, what you're doing is you're taking the burden of proof and you are standing it on its head that's abhorrent to due process," said Freeman. 

Freeman said it opens up prosecution to the doctrine of unintended consequences.

"So, every time a guy lies and says honey, I love you. You're going to prosecute him for rape? Insanity," said Freeman. 

Freeman said Ward is grateful to the jury and looking forward to moving on with his life.

News 18 hopes to meet with Prosecutor Pat Harrington in the coming days to learn more about a potential rape by deception law. 

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