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Courts

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Third man pleads guilty in rape at house party

Bower

– As Allen County police officers cuffed Austin Bower’s hands behind his back Thursday, the former Saint Francis football player’s face visibly paled.

A few rows behind their son, his parents became upset, his father mouthing an obscenity as he headed for the back door of the courtroom. It appeared no one had been prepared for Bower to go to jail after he pleaded guilty to rape.

Moments earlier, Bower, 23, admitted to raping an incapacitated woman at a house party near the University Saint Francis campus in the fall of 2011.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Bower will be sentenced to 10 years in prison, but six will be ordered served.

Four years will be suspended and served on probation. He is scheduled for sentencing next month.

If he successfully completes the terms of his probation, which includes sexual perpetrator counseling, Bower may petition the court to have his name removed from Indiana’s sex offender registry.

Bower was one of three men accused in the sexual assault, and the last of them to admit responsibility. He was scheduled to stand trial this month.

Bower, Alex Beierwalter, 23, and Troy Turner, 23, had been students at Saint Francis.

Beierwalter played in one football game for the Cougars before quitting the team a few weeks before the assault.

Bower, who was a classmate of Beierwalter in high school, according to the 2011 football media guide, was a wide receiver for the Cougars but left the team during the season, school officials said.

Turner was also an athlete, having been a brief walk-on with the Saint Francis junior varsity basketball team.

All three men left the school in 2011, officials said.

According to court documents, the woman called police, saying she had taken refuge in a bathroom after she had been sexually assaulted. When police arrived at the house in the 2000 block of Neuhaus Drive, a mile from the University of Saint Francis campus, they found her in the bathroom.

Inside the bathtub, officers found blood and a used condom, which later was found to have Bower’s DNA on it.

She said she and two friends came to the house the night before. The woman said she had consumed a lot of vodka and felt ill and went to lie down. The next thing she remembered was someone pulling down her pants and underwear.

She left a voice mail on a friend’s cellphone saying “Help me. Help me. They’re all over me. They’re holding me down. They’re hurting me,” according to court documents.

Brought in for an interview with police, Bower defecated in his pants. He denied having any sexual contact with the woman, said that no DNA of his would be found on his bed, nor would he consent to giving a DNA test to police, according to court documents.

When Beierwalter was brought in for an interview, he vomited. Back in the interview room, he was later caught on video trying to clean off his penis, according to court documents.

DNA consistent with Bower’s was found at the scene. DNA consistent with Turner’s was found during the course of the investigation, court records said.

“I said ‘no’ so many times,” the woman said during an interview at Fort Wayne’s Sexual Assault Treatment Center, according to court records.

On Bower’s cellphone, police found three photos of the woman as she was lying on a bed and being held by a man. In two other photos, it appears a man is sexually assaulting her, according to court documents.

When the father of the woman’s child confronted Bower about the case, he said, “How am I supposed to tell you what really happened without you calling the police,” according to court documents.

During Thursday’s hearing in Allen Superior Court, Bower answered Magistrate Samuel Keirns’ questions quietly. His attorney, Robert Gevers, recited the most basic facts of the case and asked him if he had committed that crime.

“Correct,” Bower said, quietly.

Despite Gevers’ request that Bower be allowed to remain free on bond until his sentencing next month, Keirns ordered him taken into custody because of the nature of the crime and the fact that there was a sentence of time behind bars.

In January, Beierwalter pleaded guilty to rape. As part of a plea agreement, he faces no more than a three-year sentence in prison or on alternative sentencing.

Turner pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of sexual battery. In exchange for his guilty plea, Turner will be given probation and must undergo sexual perpetrators counseling.

Neither Turner nor Beierwalter has yet been sentenced. As part of their agreements, they were to have testified against Bower.

rgreen@jg.net

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