USD Student Faces Second Rape Charge

USD Student Faces Second Rape Charge
A second rape charge has been filed against a former University of South Dakota student initially charged with an alleged incident in a USD dorm room.

Zachary Larson, 19, of Blaine, MN, has pleaded not guilty in First Circuit Court to both charges of second-degree rape. He is scheduled to stand trial during the week of Feb. 11 at the Clay County Courthouse in Vermillion.

Second-degree rape is a Class I felony. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Larson was initially charged in connection with an alleged incident early Sept. 14 involving an 18-year-old female in a USD dorm room, Vermillion police chief Art Mabry said at the time. Larson had no prior criminal record, Mabry said.

Larson was arrested on the USD campus Sept. 19 – his 19th birthday – and imprisoned on the one count in the Clay County Jail in Vermillion.

However, another alleged incident was discovered, resulting in the second charge, Clay County state's attorney Teddi Gertsma said Tuesday.

"During the course of the investigation, another victim turned out," she said. "Initially, when we asked for a warrant, there was one. When it went to the grand jury, there were two."

According to court documents, the first alleged incident involved a victim identified as "C.W." and occurred on or about Sept. 13 in Clay County. The second alleged incident involved a victim identified as "C.M." and occurred on or about Sept. 14 in Clay County.

The indictment was filed Oct. 10, and Larson appeared Oct. 12 and pleaded not guilty to both charges, according to the Clay County Clerk of Courts office.

Larson remains free on $2,500 bail, the clerk's office said. A

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pre-trial motions hearing has been set for Jan. 11 at the Clay County Courthouse.

Judge Arthur Rusch is scheduled to preside over the trial. Gertsma will prosecute the case, while Beresford attorney Phil Peterson, the Clay County public defender, will serve as defense counsel.

"Right now, we have filed to try (Larson) together on those charges," Gertsma said. "We don't know if there will be a (defense) motion to separate the charges."

Following last month's arrest, Mabry said the accused and the alleged victim knew each other. "They were acquaintances but weren't dating," he said.

At the time, Mabry said the alleged incident occurred in Beede Hall, where both Larson and the woman resided.

However, Gertsma declined Tuesday to identify the gender of the victims, if they were USD students or where the alleged incidents took place.

Mabry declined further comment Tuesday, referring questions to the state's attorney's office.

The Vermillion Police Department and the USD Department of Public Safety worked together on the investigation.

Larson is no longer a USD student, university spokesman Phil Carter said Tuesday.

"(Larson) decided to withdraw from classes shortly after the charges were made," Carter said.

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