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Rape charges dropped against Butler player

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By Eric Frazier

Mecklenburg prosecutors dropped sexual battery and rape charges against a former Butler football player Tuesday after finding that his contact with the alleged victim began consensually.

Osvaldo Sombo was charged with two counts of rape and one count of sexual battery on Aug. 11. But in court papers filed Tuesday, prosecutors said they were dropping the charges because of insufficient evidence.

The dismissal documents said the victim and Sombo were dating at the time of the incident, and the victim initially wanted to limit their contact to kissing. They then agreed to engage in “heavy petting,” the court papers said.

The papers said the victim’s statements to a police officer and a nurse indicated that at some point Sombo put on a condom and began to have intercourse with her, but she said it hurt and told him to stop.

Sombo didn’t, the court papers say, “and proceeded with rough vaginal intercourse while she continued to tell him to stop.”

According to the dismissal document, State v. Way, a 1979 N.C. Supreme Court ruling, says that if initial penetration begins with the victim’s consent, “no rape has occurred though the victim later withdraws consent during the same act of intercourse.”

The young woman involved in the case told the Observer in a phone interview that she never consented to have sex and, once it started, told Sombo repeatedly to stop.

"He wouldn't listen and he didn't stop," she said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

She said she suffered physical injuries and has been going to counseling. She said she wants to stay at Butler but worries about the threats she's received by phone and online from social media websites.

The young woman's father said he plans to contact legislators in hopes of preventing a repeat of what happened to his daughter.

CMS officials didn’t offer any immediate comment.

Sombo’s arrest triggered a change in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools policy on notifying schools about students who’ve been arrested. The courts notified the school system of his arrest by letter four days after the charges had been filed.

The letter went to CMS’ offices, and word didn’t get relayed to Butler until Aug. 23. Sombo played in a Butler football game on Aug. 20. CMS regulations that require students charged with violent criminal offenses to be transferred to Band Street Alternative High School as soon as the school is notified.

Superintendent Peter Gorman has said a CMS employee will now go to the courthouse each day to check for reports of arrested students.

Sombo, who was freed on $100,000 bond, was removed from Butler and transferred to Bank Street Alternative.

On Tuesday, CMS spokeswoman LaTarzja Henry said Sombo would be reinstated to Butler and would immediately be eligible to play football.

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October 4, 2015
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