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Former Student Acquitted of Sexual Assault

By Madeleine Thompson

Because Zingarelli had previously waived his right to a trial by jury, his case was decided by Judge Otho Eyster. Zingarelli’s attorney, Jim Giles ’78, told the Collegian, “When I feel the facts are so clear that my client is not guilty under the law, that indicates a good reason to waive jury, particularly when you have the possibility of someone on a jury feeling some sympathy or buying into what the victim’s saying.” The verdict was first reported by the Mount Vernon News.

In May, Eyster issued a ruling allowing evidence that consensual sex between Zingarelli and the alleged victim before and after the incident had occurred to be admitted in court, according to the News. “On the witness stand, she admitted to having a sexual encounter with him the day after the incident,” Giles said in the article.

Giles also told the News that Safety and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) “rushed to judgement” in responding to the incident. He clarified to the Collegian, however, that “what I really meant to say was I think the College and law enforcement had a bit rushed to judgement,” Giles said. “My client was drummed out of school, arrested and charged before anybody knew all the background facts.”

In a statement emailed to the Collegian, the prosecutor who handled the case denied that her office had acted prematurely in bringing the charges against Zingarelli.

“I believe our office did not ムrush to judgment’ in bringing the charges against Mr. Zingarelli,” Jennifer L. Springer, the assistant prosecuting attorney, said.

“It is our job to then take the evidence that we have and prove Mr. Zingarelli guilty of every element of each charge beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest burden of proof that must be met. We were unable to do this at the bench trial of this matter,” Springer wrote, after noting that the case began with an investigation by the KCSO and that a grand jury found probable cause to indict Zingarelli.

Cases like this one, according to Springer, are often difficult for prosecutors to back up with substantial evidence ラ they often lack eyewitnesses, and sometimes struggle to find physical evidence. The prosecutor asked that Kenyon students who believe they have been the victim of a crime immediately contact both Safety and the emergency services.

“We would urge students to do this as soon as they think they have been the victim of a criminal act,” she said. “Do not wait.”

Giles said he hopes to work with College administrators to find a way for Zingarelli to complete his degree and said he set up a meeting with Dean of Students Hank Toutain. “We certainly think the College should come up with a plan for getting this young man a Kenyon diploma,” Giles said when interviewed in July.

Prior to Giles’ comments, Toutain declined to comment when asked if he or anyone from Student Affairs had met with Zingarelli or a representative of his to discuss returning to Kenyon. Toutain said that, as a rule, he does not speak publically about personal business between the College and students or prospective students.

The case became something of a campus flashpoint when Zingarelli was indicted in December. Toutain said he did not expect the case’s resolution to bring about a change in the College’s sexual misconduct policy, but that it could change the information first years receive during sessions related to sexual misconduct at the beginning of the year.

“Because it may prompt student questions or concerns, however, I would not be surprised if Ohio criminal statutes and the filing of charges within the criminal justice system are emphasized in our customary information sessions in the interest of ensuring maximum clarity and understanding,” Toutain said in an email.

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