NORTH PORT, Fla. -- The State Attorney's Office today dropped sexual battery and false imprisonment charges against former North Port police officer Melanie Turner.
The charges stem from an investigation that began on March 2nd, following an out-of-control party hosted by the female victim.
According to initial reports by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, which was conducting the investigation, off-duty officer Melanie Turner was attending the party and invited to the party on-duty officer Ricky Urbina, who was unknown by the victim. Witnesses say that Urbina handcuffed the victim, and he and Turner took her into a bedroom and locked the door. That's when the victim says the officers allegedly performed forced sex acts on her.
Turner has denied the charges, but Officer Urbina committed suicide before he could face prosecution, complicating the investigation.
In her report, Assistant State Attorney Andrea McHugh explains the dropping of the charges by saying:
"Although the victim protested the defendants' actions in the bedroom after the fact, giving rise to probable cause that a crime had occurred, the threshold issue to be decided is whether the victim took any discernable action (either verbal or non-verbal) to inform the defendants that she had no wish to engage in sexual activity. Lacking such discernable acts, the victim's behavior could be interpreted as consenting to the activity that was taking place. The state must be able to demonstrate that there was a lack of consent such that a reasonable person would know or have reason to know that they were engaging in non-consensual sexual activity against the victim's wishes. Without any such demonstrable evidence to show a lack of consent, the charges cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, no criminal charges will be filed in this matter."
ABC 7's Bobeth Yates will have much more on this story, including exclusive video from the party in question, coming up tonight on ABC 7 News at 5 & 6.