Rebecca S. Green –
FORT WAYNE – The last of three defendants accused in the 2011 sexual assault of a woman at a house party pleaded guilty Thursday in Allen Superior Court.
A former University of Saint Francis football player, Austin Bower, 23, of Chesterton, pleaded guilty to a Class B felony charge of rape, admitting to sexually assaulting the woman in the 2000 block of Neuhaus Drive.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Bower will be sentenced to 10 years in prison, but four years will be suspended and served on probation. He must also undergo sexual perpetrator counseling.
Along with Bower, 22-year-old Alex Beierwalter, a former quarterback for the University of Saint Francis football team, and 23-year-old Troy Turner were also charged in June in connection with the October 2011 assault.
Beierwalter played in one football game for the Cougars before quitting the team a few weeks before the assault.
Bower, who was a classmate of Beierwalter in high school, according to the 2011 football media guide, was a wide receiver for the Cougars but left the team during the season, school officials said.
Turner was also an athlete, having been a brief walk-on with the Saint Francis junior varsity basketball team. All three men left the school in 2011, officials said.
According to court documents, the woman called police, saying she had taken refuge in a bathroom after she had been sexually assaulted. When police arrived at the house in the 2000 block of Neuhaus Drive, a mile from the University of Saint Francis campus, they found her in the bathroom.
She said she and two friends came to the house the night before. The woman said she had consumed a lot of vodka and felt ill and went to lie down. The next thing she remembered was someone pulling down her pants and underwear.
DNA consistent with Bower’s was found at the scene. DNA consistent with Turner’s was found during the course of the investigation, court records said.
“I said ‘no’ so many times,” the woman said during an interview at Fort Wayne’s Sexual Assault Treatment Center, according to court records.
On Bower’s cellphone, police found three photos of the woman as she was lying on a bed and being held by a man. In two other photos, it appears a man is sexually assaulting her, according to court documents.
When the father of the woman’s child confronted Bower about the case, he said, “How am I supposed to tell you what really happened without you calling the police,” according to court documents.
Bower will be sentenced next month.
Beierwalter and Turner pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the incident and were to have testified against Bower as part of their plea agreements with prosecutors.
Bower was scheduled to stand trial later this month.
For more on this story, see Friday’s print edition of The Journal Gazette or www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m.