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Courts

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Sex assault alters lives and futures of 4 friends

Last of 3 ex-athletes at house party off to prison

Beierwalter
Bower
Turner

– Three young men - once athletes and students at the University of Saint Francis – imprisoned and identified as sex offenders.

On Friday, the last of the three, Alexander J. Beierwalter, 23, was sentenced to three years for his role in the drunken sexual assault of a female friend at a house party in the fall of 2011.

Beierwalter pleaded guilty in January to criminal deviate conduct. Before him, 23-year-old Troy Turner pleaded guilty to sexual battery. And last month, 23-year-old Austin Bower pleaded guilty to rape.

In their drunken wake that night, the three not only had an effect on the woman they assaulted. They left siblings to watch them led away in handcuffs, parents in ill-health without caregivers, and darkened reputations with felony sex crime charges and media reports.

All three men left the school in 2011.

Beierwalter, a former NCAA Division I quarterback at Eastern Michigan, played a handful of games for Saint Francis' football team in 2010, according to the Saint Francis 2011 football media guide. He and Bower were teammates at Chesterton High School as well, according to the media guide.

And according to testimony and police reports, the two men – both weighing between 170 and 200 pounds – carried the small, incapacitated woman into another room and assaulted her.

She told Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck that injuries suffered then still prohibit her from engaging fully in the life she enjoyed. She once trusted the young men, who were having a toga party at a home in the 2600 block of Neuhaus Drive, about a mile from the campus.

“Betrayal doesn't even begin to describe it,” she said of how she felt when she realized Beierwalter was involved in the attack.

According to court documents and statements made in court, the woman told police she consumed “a lot” of vodka, when she fell ill. Her friends left her alone at the house, in the care of Turner, who said he would take care of her.

Turner climbed in bed with her and assaulted her. As they lay there, Bower took a cellphone photo of Turner with his arm around the woman, and Beierwalter assaulting her, according to court files.

After that, according to statements made in court, Bower and Beierwalter carried her into another room.

Later, police responded to a 911 call from the home and found the woman hiding in the bathroom. Blood and a used condom were in the tub. Bower's DNA was later found on the condom.

During Wednesday's sentencing hearing for Turner, Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Tom Chaille said the woman remembered little of what went on that night, and was learning more about it as the case unfolded.

Beierwalter's father, who is physically impaired, asked for leniency and mercy for his son, citing his own physical struggles and Beierwalter's help in caring for him, as well as his elderly grandfather.

But Doug Beierwalter said that he too had a daughter, and could not imagine how he would feel if something like this happened to her.

Alex Beierwalter told the victim he was sorry for “what happened that night.”

“I wish I could change it,” he said, then emotionally thanked his family for their support.

As he said at Turner's sentencing hearing earlier in the week, Surbeck said the cases demonstrate that good people can do bad things, which have serious consequences.

However, Beierwalter seemed to be casting himself as somewhat of a victim in the matter, Surbeck said.

“He didn't say 'I'm sorry for what I did to you, my friend,' ” Surbeck said. “He said, 'I'm sorry for what happened.' ”

Surbeck noticed the three cases seemed to find a sense of proportionality – with admissions and plea agreements putting Beierwalter right in the middle for penalties and remorse.

Surbeck noted that Beierwalter's apology fell somewhere in the middle between Turner's tearful and heartfelt apology and Bower's five general words to no one in particular.

Bower, Surbeck said, was completely without remorse and Turner was evidently shaken by his actions and the consequences.

“You're sorry for you did,” he said, looking at the defendant. “But you're sorry that you got caught.”

Beierwalter nodded slightly.

Surbeck sentenced Beierwalter to 10 years in prison, the same sentence as handed down to Bower. But unlike Bower, who had only four years suspended, Surbeck suspended seven years of Beierwalter's sentence.

Beierwalter must serve four years on probation after he serves three years in the Indiana Department of Correction.

Turner was sentenced Wednesday to a year behind bars and two years on probation.

After the hearing, the victim said she was “incredibly relieved” that she could now put the situation behind her after two years.

“I believe justice was served,” she said.

rgreen@jg.net

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