A standout senior on the Minnesota State University, Moorhead, wrestling team allegedly raped an 18-year-old student in his dorm room while the assault was being video-recorded on his cellphone, according to charges.
Angel M. Vega, 23, was charged Wednesday in Clay County District Court with third-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with the alleged rape Monday in his Grantham Hall room. Vega was arrested, posted bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 12. He also was charged with providing alcohol to a minor, a gross misdemeanor.
Vega, who competed for MSU, Moorhead, at the Div. II national championships last season at 141 pounds, has been suspended from the wrestling program “pending the outcome” of a school administration review, Athletic Director Doug Peters said Friday.
Vega remains enrolled as a student, but school spokesman David Wahlberg cited federal privacy requirements and declined to say what sanctions, if any, have been imposed.
Wahlberg said the school has wide latitude in addressing these types of cases. It can impose short- or long-term suspensions or expel a student. If campus safety is at imminent risk, “immediate action” can be taken, he added.
Wahlberg emphasized that the university still views itself as a statistically safe campus, “but that doesn’t mean that bad things can’t happen. We talk about safety from the time students first come on this campus.”
While acknowledging that the charges show that alcohol had a role in this incident, Wahlberg said, “there aren’t any factors that make it OK to commit sexual assault.”
Defense attorney Ken Kohler said that he and his client are withholding comment on the allegations until they receive police reports and other records connected to the case against Vega, who grew up in Olivehurst, Calif., north of Sacramento.
According to the criminal complaint:
Police officers and an ambulance were called about 11:15 p.m. Monday to Grantham Hall about people being intoxicated. They saw Vega and his roommate in their third-floor room, one woman on a bed vomiting, and another woman unconscious on the floor and partly undressed. Vega grabbed the woman on the floor and told her to be quiet because police had arrived.
The roommate told police that the four played drinking games, and the women lost.
Other students on the floor said to police that Vega told them they could “see something crazy” and showed them the woman as she was intoxicated on a lounge couch and topless. They said he dragged her back to the room, saying he intended to have sex with her. The students called floor security.
Vega told police he gave the woman Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and knew she was 18 years old. He denied having sex with her, saying they only were in the lounge “making out,” the complaint read.
Authorities found Vega’s cellphone in his room. On it was a photo of the partly undressed woman in the lounge and a video showing Vega forcing the “out of it” woman to have oral sex and intercourse, the complaint continued. He denied to police that he recorded any sexual activity.
At the hospital, the woman told a police detective that she only recalled playing drinking games and had only known Vega for a week or two.