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Accused Opera nightclub sex assault suspect faces new rape allegation
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Accused Opera nightclub sex assault suspect faces new rape allegation

Accused Opera nightclub sex assault suspect faces new rape allegation

Accused Opera nightclub sex assault suspect faces new rape allegation

A Fulton County judge found probable cause Wednesday to send the case of the Opera Atlanta nightclub sex assault suspect to a grand jury for not just one--but two cases.

Dominique Williams, 34, was arrested on a charge of aggravated sodomy in late January, after a woman who had been celebrating her birthday at Opera said that Williams assaulted her sexually twice there--once on the dance floor, and again on a back patio after carrying her limp body off the dance floor. Jasmine Eiland, 30, believes something had been slipped into her drink--an allegation described by her attorney Chris Stewart earlier this week.

 

"If you watch the full videotape, she went from coherent, having fun," Stewart paused, snapping his fingers, "to having a drink that he kept talking her into having to being out of it. We also have a friend from a video of hers that arrived after who says, 'Girl, you said that he raped you.'" 

Eiland's alleged assault made headlines because she had been live-streaming her night on Facebook; other clubgoers saw some of the activity, too, and at least one made her own video of what she had witnessed. While most of the time, the names of victims of sexual assault are kept confidential in news reporting, Eiland says she chose to identify herself publicly in part to stand up against victim-shaming--a lot of which she's seen since accusing Williams.

Atlanta Police said they reached out to Eiland about the alleged crime after other people had seen the video and brought their attention to it, but that Eiland did not come to them. When they reached her, she was driving back to her Missouri home. She ended up having a rape kit done at a hospital in St. Louis. Test results, including toxicology, are still pending.

The investigator said Eiland had a couple of sips of a drink, began feeling woozy and weak, then slumped over on the dance floor. At that point, said Riester, she was still streaming on Facebook Live.

Williams faced a preliminary hearing Wednesday for a judge to determine whether there was probable cause for the case to be bound over to a grand jury. The lead detective on the Opera assault case, Atlanta Police Investigator Katie Riester, said after the club assault allegation became public, another young woman came forward to police to report an encounter with the same man in the video.

The woman said that she had gone out on a date with Williams in September 2018, and that she had had two drinks of Grand Marnier at a restaurant. In between the drinks, she left to go to the bathroom. After returning and drinking the 2nd cocktail, the woman said, she stood up and felt weak. When she told Williams she felt sick, he suggested that since her vehicle was at his South Fulton home, that they go back there until she felt well enough to drive.

"She went back to his house. They sat on the couch. She remembers having more good conversation. They were laughing," testified Riester. "Then all of a sudden, the next thing she remembers, she woke up in his bed. She looked in the bathroom and saw him in the bathroom, and she said it appeared like he was taking a condom off. She heard the sound like a condom was coming off." 

The woman described seeing a big hole ripped in the crotch area of her one-piece outfit, and feeling sore in her vaginal area.  

"She told me she looked the defendant and said, 'What the f--- happened?' and he said, 'You were moaning like you liked it.' She was like, 'Well, what happened to my clothes?' He said, 'I was rubbing on you and it ripped,'" said Riester.

The woman told police that she did not feel ready to report it at the time.

 

Williams' attorney Shequel Ross was adamant that anything that happened between her client and Jasmine Eiland was consensual at Opera nightclub. She worked to cast doubt on the 30-year-old woman's story--asking why she didn't make an outcry to others at the club, to police or security there, and drove by all the Atlanta hospitals on her way out of town.

The defense called a witness, clubgoer Aris Reeves, an Emory nurse who said she had seen Eiland and Williams interacting for about two to three hours at Opera, and never saw the young woman indicate in any way that she was uncomfortable or had been assaulted. Reeves said she does not know Williams, but wanted to come forward because she "didn't want to see anyone slandered" with such a serious accusation. 

 

"In my opinion, this situation was brought out of proportion because of social media, and so I felt like somebody that was actually there should speak out as to what was going on and what was happening between both the actions of Mr. Williams and Ms. Eiland," testified Reeves.

Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Adam Abbate cross-examined Reeves, who admitted that no, she had not seen the interaction between Williams and Eiland non-stop--that there were times when neither was in her view.

Ross acted incredulous that the woman who claimed to be sexually assaulted would dance more than once with her client--and then enter a twerking contest at the club.  

"A married mother of five kids, dancing in a club with no panties?!" asked Ross. "The same anus that just got assaulted is now on the stage popping and dancing during a twerk contest? Won round one." 

Ross also argued that the other accuser's story should be ignored because of her delayed outcry. 

But the judge ruled that a grand jury will hear the evidence of aggravated sodomy as well as the alleged rape of the woman last September.

Williams is scheduled for a bond hearing Thursday, February 14.

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