Logan • During one “terrifying” night last month when she was sexually assaulted, a 19-year-old Utah State University student said she saw two sides of her accused attacker, 27-year-old Jason Brian Relopez.
The woman saw the man she knew and had become acquainted with as they both participated in Greek life activities on campus. But then she saw another person, whom she described as “a demon.”
The woman testified about the July 12 encounter during a Thursday preliminary hearing for Relopez in 1st District Court, recounting how she went to the Sigma Chi fraternity house during a night of drinking and encountered Relopez.
She said the two started making out in a bathroom, and eventually in his bedroom. But she became terrified, she testified, when Relopez slapped her across the face.
“It was like a demon went inside his soul,” the woman recalled. “…He was like, ‘I will win tonight because I am stronger than you and we both know that.’ From that moment, my stomach just dropped.”
The woman testified that Relopez raped her five to six times throughout the night. She said she never explicitly told him “No,” but said she did not give consent to the assault, which included Relopez allegedly slapping her multiple times and choking her.
“In my heart, I felt like my choice was taken from me,” she said. “I wasn’t in a place or circumstance that I could say no.”
She went to police a week after the alleged rape, testifying that she felt humiliated and embarrassed by the encounter.
Relopez, who is accused of sexually assaulting two women, is charged with one count each of aggravated sexual assault and rape, both first-degree felonies.
The other woman, a 20-year-old USU student, testified Thursday that she was raped by Relopez inside her Cache Valley home as the two were studying together in October 2014. She said the two began making out, and she at one point straddled him.
“He asked me if I wanted to go all the way,” the woman recalled. “And I said, ‘No.’ “
But the woman said Relopez then pinned her arms and legs down and raped her.
“I asked him to stop two times or so,” she testified. “I said, ‘I don’t want to do this. Please stop. Let’s not.’ It was like I wasn’t even there. I was completely ignored.”
That woman said she didn’t go to the police about the encounter until nearly a year later, when she heard through a Greek life adviser that Relopez had been accused of raping the 19-year-old woman.
“I felt incredibly guilty that I hadn’t done anything about it in the first place,” she said. “I decided it needed to stop, so I went in and reported it.”
After hearing testimony from the two alleged victims, Judge Brian Cannell ordered Relopez to stand trial on the charges, despite defense attorney Shannon Demler’s request to have them dismissed. Demler argued that the encounters were consensual, saying the women’s claims were rooted in “future regret.”
“Regret the next day of doing something stupid when you’re drunk doesn’t make rape and it doesn’t make sexual assault,” Demler said.
Logan police arrested Relopez earlier last month on suspicion of seven counts of rape, in connection with three alleged victims. But prosecutor Barbara Lachmar said after Thursday’s hearing that she doesn’t anticipate filing any additional charges against Relopez at this time. But she added that the investigation is “fluid” and things could change.