Authorities have dropped felony criminal sexual conduct charges against a former athlete at a Christian college in the western Twin Cities who was accused of assaulting a fellow student.

Harvey M. Holcombe, 23, was scheduled to go on trial this week in Carver County District Court on second- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.

However, prosecutor Angella Erickson notified the court that the charges were being dismissed "in the interests of justice." The filing offered no elaboration. Messages were left Thursday morning with Erickson seeking further explanation.

Holcombe was one of two defendants charged in connection with the incident that occurred at Crown College near St. Bonifacius. In May, fellow onetime student-athlete Michael F. Brewster pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced to nine days in jail and 15 years of probation.

Co-defense counsel Christina Zauhar said Thursday in an e-mail that "first, we want to acknowledge our respect for the prosecutor in recognizing the inherent flaws and weaknesses in this case. Like most situations in life, there are always two sides to a story. While one could attempt to portray this incident as a sexual assault, we believe that is extremely misleading. ... This was simply an incident of three college boys wrestling/rough-housing in a college dorm that lasted less than 10 seconds."

"Had there been a trial, the defense would have included the fact that Mr. Holcombe had no knowledge of the conduct by Mr. Brewster in the brief moments that this incident happened. ... While we respect the good intentions of vigorously prosecuting criminal assault charges, those efforts were misplaced in this case."

Authorities said that on Feb. 14, 2020, Holcombe and Brewster, 24, overpowered a 19-year-old student, stripped him of some of his clothing and attempted to sexually assault him. One of the suspects described the incident as a prank that went awry, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Brewster, who is from La Crescent, Minn., was a junior at the time of the incident and began his college athletic career playing football and later joined the tennis team.

Holcombe, who is from Locust Grove, Va., was a senior and played four seasons on the soccer team.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482