BEND, OR -- Oregon's Court of Appeals has vacated the rape conviction of a former Central Oregon Community College instructor. Thomas Bray appealed his 2011 conviction, claiming the victim's refusal to grant access to her personal computer violated his civil rights. He claims there was information on her computer that could have aided in his defense.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel tells KBND News, "It's a clash of two fundamental Constitutional provisions. You have the right of privacy; a victim of sexual assault says 'one: I have to come into court and reveal all these intimate details about the sexual assault; that's hard enough. Now you want to see all my emails, you want to see all my Google searches. That's too much. I have a right to privacy and I'm not going to share that.' But, that's clashing with a defendant's right to confront and cross examine his accusers." He adds, "I respectfully disagree, but I'm not surprised because this is a novel case. We have no report of a case in Oregon with these facts - this fundamental clash of Constitutional provisions. So, it's a case of first impressions, and whenever you have those cases, reasonable judges and attorneys can and will disagree. That's what happened in this case."
He says the ball is now in the Attorney General's court, "The Oregon Attorney General has to decide if she's going to appeal the Court of Appeals decision to the Oregon Supreme Court. If she's going to do that, we'll have to wait for the Supreme Court to rule. But, if the Attorney General does not seek an appeal, then it comes back to the trial judge in Deschutes County. And the Court of Appeals told that judge, 'reconsider your decision regarding whether you're going to look at the victim's computer.'" Or, he says the case could be retried.
Bray was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the February 2011 rape of a 23-year-old Bend woman. The two met on a dating website.