Sexual assault charges against five William Paterson University students have been dismissed, but the students’ status at the school remained unclear on Thursday as defense attorneys criticized the school’s internal investigation and statements made by its president.
A grand jury declined to indict the students, all of whom are 18 years old, after hearing the case on Monday, according to court officials and a defense attorney. The five men, who had been accused of taking part in the sexual assault of a woman in the Overlook South residence hall on Nov. 25, have not been allowed back to the school since shortly after the alleged incident. The woman’s identity has never been made public and her role in the investigation is unknown.
Ron Ricci, an attorney for one of the students, Jahmel Latimer of Hoboken, said the grand jury made its decision after a one-day presentation. He said defense attorneys had presented evidence to prosecutors that cleared their clients and that the prosecution had then “presented the case honestly” to grand jurors.
Ricci declined to discuss details of that evidence but said: “The facts demonstrated that this was not a sexual assault, and the actions of those young men were not in violation of the law. It clearly wasn’t a crime.”