Logan • A Utah judge has ruled that a trial will be held in Box Elder County for a former Utah State University football star accused of sexually assaulting seven women.
Citing a concern about the “interrelationship” of USU and the Logan community, 1st District Judge Brian Cannell granted Torrey Green’s request that his upcoming trial be held somewhere other than Cache County.
“The court is concerned about the thumbprint of Utah State University,” the judge said in announcing his Thursday ruling.
Green is charged with 12 felonies in connection with the testimony of seven women who say the athlete sexually assaulted them between 2013 and 2015 when he was a student in Logan.
Defense attorney Skye Lazaro had argued in court Thursday that, due to intense media coverage around the state, it would be difficult for Green to receive a fair trial in Cache County. She also expressed concern that the community would be sympathetic to the alleged victims — all white women — and could be prejudiced against her client, who is black. It’s also relevant, she said, that Green played football in the small college town.
“We run into the potential problem of not being able to even seat an unbiased jury,” she argued. “If we move out of Logan or out of Cache County, we have a greater [jury] pool.”
Deputy Cache County Attorney Spencer Walsh argued in response that the media coverage had been state and even nationwide — and that The Salt Lake Tribune and other Salt Lake City-based outlets had covered the story more heavily than those in Cache County.
“I don’t know if moving the case resolves anything,” Walsh argued. “His name is out there. He’s been accused, and he’s innocent until proven guilty. I don’t know how moving the case to Salt Lake aids him in receiving a fair trial more than he would receive here.”
But in his ruling, Cannell expressed concern that most Logan residents likely had some tie to Utah State University. And criticism of the way USU has handled reports of sexual abuse has extended beyond just Green’s case, the judge said, and has included allegations of sexual abuse at USU fraternity houses and mistreatment within its music program.
While it was initially anticipated that Green would face seven different trials on each of the women’s reports, attorneys this week asked Cannell to consolidate the cases. This request came after the judge had ruled there were enough similarities in six of the seven cases to allow their testimonies to be heard at the other trials.
Now, only two trials will be held: one that will include testimony of the six similar cases, and another for a seventh alleged victim.
Walsh said after Thursday’s hearing that prosecutors agreed to consolidate the trials because it would be beneficial to the alleged victims, since they will only need to testify once.
A Salt Lake Tribune story published in July 2016 detailed four women’s allegations against Green. Each had previously reported their alleged assaults to police in 2015.
The Tribune’s reporting prompted Cache County prosecutors to re-examine those cases. Other alleged victims came forward, and prosecutors have investigated at least 15 sexual-assault allegations against Green.
Green, 23, has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. He is being held in the Cache County jail without the opportunity to post bail. A trial date has not yet been set.