Swimmer charged in sexual assault gets felony conviction
Ordered to serve 150 days under plea deal that keeps victim from having to testify
A 21-year-old Pleasanton man and former swimmer at UC Davis has been convicted of a felony in connection with an attack on a young woman in her dorm room last year.
Pierce Hunter accepted a plea deal that spared the victim from having to testify and avoided a jury trial. Hunter pleaded no contest -- admitting that the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him but not admitting guilt -- to a single felony count of dissuading a witness after threatening the victim following the attack.
As part of the plea deal, Hunter was ordered to serve 150 days in the county jail; a charge of sexual battery will remain on hold for the five years Hunter will be on probation following his stay in jail. During his probation, he will have to register as sex offender, receive sex offender counseling, and attend meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. The sexual battery charge will be dismissed if Hunter successfully completes probation.
Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Clint Parish told the court the attack took place in January 2010.
"Hunter entered the dorm room of the victim. According to the victim, after a short discussion, Hunter took off most of his clothes and began to force himself on her," Parish told the judge. "During the struggle, Hunter took the victim's pants off of her as well as her underwear. Because of the vast difference in size between Hunter and the victim, he was able to keep her pinned down while he continued to assault her."
The victim, who lives in the San Ramon Valley, also attended UC Davis at the time and was a member of the swim team there. At his sentencing hearing earlier this month, her mother read a prepared statement written by the victim.
"I have asked for this to be read on my behalf by my mother because I do not want to see or speak to Pierce Hunter ever again," the woman's statement reads. "Pierce Hunter set out to deliberately hurt me when he came to my dorm room uninvited and tried to rape me."
The woman said her roommate came to her rescue.
"After my roommate helped me fight off Pierce Hunter, he then threatened me, my roommate and later my sister's safety to keep me from talking about it," the woman's letter to the court continued. "It took me awhile to have the courage to come forward about the attack which I was able to do after I learned about Pierce Hunter's violent behavior towards other swim team members and a threat was made against my sister's and my life. In one of the other attacks Pierce Hunter sexually assaulted another female swimmer in her dorm room in a most brutal and disgusting fashion.
"Unfortunately, she did not have a roommate to save her or be a witness for her. Pierce Hunter also assaulted a male swimmer and was so violent that he had to be Tasered by the Davis police before he was taken into custody."
Yolo County District Attorney Jeff W. Reisig confirmed that following the young woman's report of the attack, two other women came forward with similar stories.
The young woman attacked by Hunter also said in her statement that his family tried to cover up the incident and enlisted the help of his swim coach as well.
"This is a problem because it helped hide his true nature from innocent people. Pierce Hunter's family members have been enablers of his anti-social behavior and they have enlisted others in the swimming community to help trivialize his violent behavior," the woman's statement reads.
Hunter is currently living in the area and has since become a member of the Diablo Valley College swim team, where he competed in the men's 100-yard freestyle and the 800-yard freestyle relay.
Yolo County District Attorney Jeff W. Reisig called the plea deal "an excellent outcome for the victim, the prosecution and citizens of Yolo County."
"The defendant now has a felony strike on his record and must register as a sex offender for a minimum of five years while on probation," Reisig said. "He will undergo sex offender counseling after serving his jail term. His probation officer will keep tabs on him to prevent him from reoffending."
The district attorney also acknowledged it can be difficult to get a conviction in cases like this.
"Jury trials in rape cases often result in the victim being put on trial and being retraumatized. Or, it's not uncommon to see defendants in these cases go unpunished, leaving the victim in both a physical and emotional mess," he said. "We avoided all of this and justice was served."