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Jefferson may face charges

Meghanne Downes | Thursday, September 25, 2003

Michael Anderson, attorney for the plaintiff in the civil sexual assault trial of former Notre Dame football player Clifford Jefferson, said Wednesday that he intends to ask St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak to consider filing criminal charges against Jefferson.

A jury in the civil trial awarded $1 million in damages Tuesday to the former Saint Mary’s student who alleged Jefferson raped her on March 22, 2001.

Anderson recognized that the burden of proof is much lower in a civil trial compared to a criminal trial. However, he intends to forward information he has gathered and testimony from the civil trial to the prosecutor’s office in about two weeks, recommending that criminal felony rape charges be filed against Jefferson.

“[Dvorak] is a very fine prosecutor and whatever his determination is, I will respect it,” Anderson said.

Dvorak’s office did not return a phone call seeking comment.

At the time of the 2001 incident, Dvorak had not yet been elected prosecutor and former St. Joseph County Prosecutor Chris Toth was still in office.

The woman said Jefferson raped and sexually assaulted her in his car outside of her dorm while she was intoxicated as she passed in and out of consciousness. Jefferson had given the woman a ride back to the College after they talked at Benchwarmers Sports Lounge, a downtown South Bend bar.

Jefferson said the sexual activity was consensual.He could not be reached for comment.

The woman claimed she suffered emotional and psychological problems after the incident and has since transferred to a university closer to her Pittsburgh home.

During testimony, the woman said she did not press criminal charges at the time because she was traumatized when she went to Memorial Hospital. Evidence was not saved from her examination. She also said she feared losing her scholarship because she was drinking underage.