August 21, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Judge dismisses sexual assault charges against Tigers minor league pitcher Evan Reed

Evan Reed talks to reporters after sexual assault ...
Evan Reed talks to reporters after sexual assault ...: Tigers minor league pitcher has nothing to say to accuser; hopes to concentrate on baseball

Detroit —A woman’s claims that Detroit Tiger minor league pitcher Evan Reed raped her were not credible, a district judge said Thursday before dismissing sexual assault charges.

The 45-year-old woman claimed Reed met her in the 5th Avenue bar in Royal Oak on March 29, slipped something into her drink, and took her to his 6th-floor room at the MotorCity Casino. She also claimed he raped her the next morning, a day before the Tigers opened their season in late March.

But 36th District Judge Kenneth King ruled after a preliminary examination Thursday that the claims had no merit.

“I don’t find her to be a very credible witness,” King said, adding that prosecutors didn’t meet the standard of proof for either force or coercion, or that the woman was incapacitated.

During her testimony, the woman backtracked several times. One inconsistency was that she first claimed she didn’t know she was with ballplayers in the bar, despite texting a friend: “I’m sitting with Tigers, dummy!” She later said she thought some of the men were baseball players, but not Reed.

“I don't believe the alleged victim when she says she didn’t know who these people were,” King said. “She said she didn’t know they were Tigers until two days later ... why are you being less than truthful?”

Reed, 28, appeared relieved as he spoke to reporters outside the courthouse. “I have my life back,” he said. “This nightmare has gone on longer than it should have. Now I can concentrate on baseball and hopefully pitch for the Tigers again.”

Prosecutors haven’t yet decided whether to appeal the ruling, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Maria Miller said in a statement.

“(The decision) will be announced at a later date,” Miller said.

The Tigers released a brief statement: “We are aware and happy for him and have no further comment.”

There were four witnesses during Thursday’s hearing: A coat-check girl at the bar, where Reed and his accuser met; a maintenance man at the MotorCity Casino, where Reed had a hotel room the night the alleged assault took place; the prosecution’s co-lead investigator in the case, and, finally, the woman who claims Reed raped her.

The woman, whom The Detroit News is not identifying because she is an alleged victim of sexual assault, said she and a friend went to the 5th Avenue, and that Reed called her to his table. He was sitting with three other men she assumed were Detroit Tigers, one of whom was relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain.

But she said Reed, 28, lied and told her he was 41 years old. She added that she assumed he wasn’t a ballplayer. “He didn’t seem to fit the profile,” she said.

The woman said she’s an avid Tiger fan, who planned to go to Opening Day the next day. She painted her fingernails with the Tiger logo, she said.

She said she drank two vodka and tonics, and then had a third drink, which she left on her table when she and Reed danced. When she returned, she said she took a sip, and that the drink tasted sour.

King asked her why she continued drinking it if it tasted different, and the woman said she assumed someone had added a lime to it.

Reed and the woman left the bar and took a cab to the casino hotel. Surveillance video from the casino was played in court and showed the woman stumbling and falling. Reed eventually picked her up and carried her for several feet.

The woman said she didn’t remember much about that night, but the next morning she said she awoke in Room 621 feeling disoriented. She said she stumbled into the shower, where Reed joined her and, she said, raped her.

The woman said she told him to stop, but he wouldn’t. After the alleged assault, she said she went back to the hotel bed and tried to go to sleep, but that Reed forced himself on her again. When she refused, she claims Reed told her to go home.

King said the woman’s own description of what allegedly happened was one reason for throwing out the allegations.

“You wake up in a hotel room and you’re naked, and the person you’re there with is naked, and even after this happens to you, your thought is not to put your clothes on and get the heck out of there; your thought is to wash up, get back in the bed and try to sleep it off.”

After the woman left the hotel room, she encountered a casino maintenance worker, but did not tell him she’d been raped — another reason King cited for throwing out the case.

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Evan Reed and attorney David Gorcyca before Judge Kenneth King at Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit on Thursday. / David Coates / The Detroit News
“I don’t find her to be a very credible witness,” Judge Kenneth King said, ... (David Coates / The Detroit News)