Ron Forsell | Co-editor in Chief
A judge has granted a motion by the State to reduce the charge from first-degree sexual assault to third-degree sexual assault in the case of former Buena Vista University (BVU) student Jacob Syndergaard.
The decision came after an April 16 pretrial conference ahead of the scheduled trial for the alleged sexual assault that occurred on campus in late October 2011.
The key difference between the two charges is that the first-degree sexual assault charge required a demonstration of “permanent injury” to the alleged victim and carried a maximum sentence of life in prison. Syndergaard’s new charge, third-degree sexual assault, removes the “permanent injury” proof and changes that maximum sentence. If Syndergaard is found guilty, he would now face a jail sentence of a maximum of ten years.
Syndergaard was originally arrested on Oct. 31, 2011, and booked into the Buena Vista County Jail, after police were called to the Buena Vista Regional Medical Center in response to an alleged sexual assault. On December 12, 2011, Syndergaard pled not guilty and was released on $100,000 bail. Syndergaard’s bail required that he withdraw from BVU and not consume alcohol, among other conditions.
Since December, both sides have been preparing motions for the trial. These motions include several trial related matters. Syndergaard’s attorney, Edward Bjornstad, filed motions to get access to the alleged victim’s medical records. The State resisted this motion citing confidentiality issues. The Defense has also listed numerous potential witnesses including some BVU students, campus security officers, a genetic technologist, and medical professionals.
The trial is underway today, Tuesday, April 24 at 9:00 a.m. at the Buena Vista County Courthouse in Storm Lake.
Follow The Tack for updates as they become available.