Former Iowa student, identified in sex assault via Facebook, won't get new trial

Assault occurred on Pentacrest in October 2010

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A former University of Iowa student, who was convicted in a 2010 sexual assault near the Pentacrest after his victim identified him on Facebook, will not get a new trial.

Evan Michael Pfeifer, 20, of Lake Barrington, Ill., was convicted Nov. 30 of third-degree sexual abuse in connection with the attack on Oct. 3, 2010. Pfeifer could get up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced Friday.

Pfeifer, who was immediately taken into custody after his conviction and is being housed in the Muscatine County Jail for Johnson County, filed a motion for a new trial and judgment of acquittal on Jan. 18, according to online court records.

A judge denied that request on Monday and ordered his sentencing remain set for Friday.

According to court testimony, the victim – who was 19 at the time of the assault – was walking home from a party with five to six friends about 2 a.m. in October 2010. They were drunk but could function, she said. The victim testified that she lagged behind the group as they weaved through campus by the Pentacrest, and a man – who she later identified as Pfeifer – approached her and started a conversation.

She told Pfeifer she needed to catch up to her friends so she could get into Stanley Hall, where they lived. Pfeifer said he lived there too and would let her in, she testified.  She said Pfeifer then led her over to a tree and guided her to the ground, where he held her down, pinned her hands and arms under his knees and placed a hand over her mouth, according to her testimony.

She said she struggled to free herself and told him to stop before she gave up fighting. A witness reported seeing two people having sex on the Pentacrest that morning, according to testimony, and he was suspicious. After the victim separated from the man, the witness approached her and found her sobbing, according to the testimony. He asked if she had been raped, and she nodded yes, he testified.

The woman didn’t immediately report the incident to police, but a week later she recognized Pfeifer on campus. Her sister followed him into a building and struck up a conversation, getting his name and promising to look him up on Facebook, according to testimony.

The victim found him on the online social network and reported the assault on Nov. 1, 2010 – about two weeks after her sister first talked with Pfeifer.

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