Convicted ex-Gopher can't leave state for NFL tryout
ROCHELLE OLSON, Star Tribune
A Hennepin County District judge won't allow former University of Minnesota football star Dominic Jones to leave the state for one day to participate in NFL tryouts at Ohio State University.
Judge Marilyn Rosenbaum said she's treating the case "like any other," but defense lawyer Earl Gray called that absurd.
Jones was convicted last April of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for an incident with a drunken woman caught on a 37-second cell-phone video. He served eight months in the workhouse and was released March 2.
Rosenbaum said Jones can't leave until he completes his sex offender assessment and begins treatment. The judge agreed with Gray that Jones had followed the requirements of the court and not faltered since he was arrested in July 2007, jailed last July and put on probation.
Gray said Jones had "proven himself all throughout this proceeding" and now wanted one "slight break" to return to Ohio, participate in the tryouts and see his mother and his son. He initially asked that Jones be allowed to leave Thursday and return Sunday. He later asked that he be allowed to leave Thursday and return Friday.
Assistant County Attorney Marlene Senechal, who heads the violent crimes division, said Jones should not be allowed to go because he is an "untreated sex offender" and his chances of playing in the NFL are "unrealistic." She said, "It would be inappropriate for him to leave the state."
Gray took issue with Senechal's characterization of Jones' chances, saying he should at least be given an opportunity to try out for the NFL. "In order to be successful on probation, it would seem to me a man should be able to pursue his career," Gray said.
Jones' probation officer, Gary Shackelford, said sex assessments are completed and treatment is begun before someone is allowed to leave.
In denying Jones' request, Rosenbaum said perhaps he would have another chance at a tryout after he has begun sex offender treatment.
After the brief court session, Gray countered that Rosenbaum presumes Jones will need treatment before he even is assessed.
The defense lawyer also questioned why the state waited until now to assess Jones when it could have done so while he was in the workhouse for eight months.
"I had no idea we would have to get a court order," he said to the judge. "I just assumed there would be a travel paper signed to allow him to leave for a day."
In 39 years, Gray said he had never had to request a court order for a client to leave the state while on probation such as Jones.
Jones was convicted of performing a sexual act, masturbating, over an 18-year-old woman who prosecutors said was too drunk to give consent. He was acquitted of the more serious charge of having sex with the woman.
Throughout the case, Rosenbaum has shown no affinity for the defense. She rarely has acknowledged or greeted Jones in court and most of her rulings have favored the prosecution.
Notably, she refused to allow into evidence at trial the fact that Jones' victim had sex with three other players that night. None of them has been charged.