The Fresno attorney who represented former Fresno State student and TimeOut mascot Deandre Jean-Pierre said “there is no way” his client was rightfully convicted of sexual battery.
Jean-Pierre was found guilty in Fresno County Superior Court on Aug. 25 of two counts of sexual battery, both misdemeanors.
Last November, the Fresno Police Department notified university students that multiple victims had come forward with similar reports of alleged groping. On Dec. 2, Jean-Pierre was arrested as the suspect in the gropings, and Criego said Jean-Pierre was kicked out of Fresno State before the trial began.
Attorney Franz Criego, who represented Jean-Pierre during his trial, said he is not satisfied with the guilty verdict and pointed to several factors that may have led to it. He argued that black males accused of crimes are usually found guilty.
According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, (NAACP), black males are five times more likely to be incarcerated than white males.
“Since the early 1900s, anytime a nonwhite victim pointed to a black male and said, ‘He did it to me,’ irrespective of the evidence – DNA or otherwise – that black male has always been convicted,” Criego said. “It’s just called history.”
Criego said there are photos of Jean-Pierre in Stockton at a barbecue at the time of at least one of the groping cases reported near campus. He said Jean-Pierre had a parking ticket from a hotel at 3 p.m. while he was in Stockton and could not have made it to Fresno in time for a different groping case he was later accused of.
“The police turned around and took 4 to 6-year-old pictures that met the description [given] by these young ladies. And that’s how (Jean-Pierre) was identified,” Criego said.
When they did the photo lineup, Criego claimed investigators didn’t put in people who fit the description, leaving Jean-Pierre as the only person to match the description by the alleged victims.
Jean-Pierre, according to Criego, lost his job and will not be able to walk with his graduating class at Fresno State.
“What more can you do to this kid that hasn’t been done?” Criego asked during a phone conversation with The Collegian.
“This kid’s life is ruined,” Criego said. He insists the arguments he made in court for Jean-Pierre, who has to register as a sex offender for life, prove his innocence even if he was found guilty.
Fresno State confirmed in 2016 that Jean-Pierre had been named as a suspect in the groping incident. Since then, Jean-Pierre no longer studies at Fresno State.
The day before Jean-Pierre’s trial, the district attorney released the evidence. Then, the district attorney claimed he “lacked sufficient resources to properly evaluate the evidence,” Criego charged.
Jean-Pierre will be represented by an another attorney in an appeal, Criego said.
Jean-Pierre was originally accused of five counts of sexual battery. When it was lowered to four, one count was withdrawn, another was dismissed and he was found guilty only of two counts of sexual battery. Criego said, “The verdict is contrary to the evidence. It’s contrary to their theory.”
He said testimony from four other students placed Jean-Pierre in Sacramento, and three other students said they were at a barbecue with him in Stockton during the alleged crimes.
Fresno County Superior Court Judge John Vogt sentenced Jean-Pierre on Sept. 28 to two concurrent, 360-day jail terms. However, Vogt credited his time already served in custody and suspended the remainder of his sentence, according to KFSN-TV.
Criego said Jean-Pierre had served a total of 30 days in jail during the trial and will register as a sex offender for life. He will be on probation for three years, he added.
Fresno State’s Title IX coordinator, Erin Boele, could not be reached for comment on this story.