Jury deadlocks in K-State professor’s rape trial

By Katherine Wartell

The trial of an assistant K-State professor accused of rape ended in mistrial Friday when jurors declared they could not unanimously agree on a verdict.

A new trial date for William Yankey, 29, Manhattan, is scheduled to be set during a status hearing on June 3.

Jurors deliberated for approximately three-and-a-half hours before sending a note to presiding District Judge Meryl Wilson stating they would be unable to come to a unanimous decision.

Yankey, a visiting assistant professor of interior architecture and product design, is accused of raping a former friend in December 2007 when he visited the woman and her husband at their Manhattan home.

According to testimony by the now 27-year-old victim, Yankey had digitally penetrated her vagina and groped her breast as she slept in her bedroom, while her husband was not in the room.

Yankey, who had moved from Manhattan following graduation from K-State, was visiting the couple for the fall graduation weekend. The victim’s husband was reportedly his best friend.

The alleged assault occurred, the victim said, after Yankey and the couple had drinks in Aggieville after Yankey arrived in town.

But Yankey, who said he was too drunk to remember the night, claims the woman told him a different version of events in a subsequent meeting with her. According to him, the woman said they were talking in her bedroom when he came on to her and tried to grope and kiss her. In court, Yankey denied any allegations of rape.

Jurors, composed of ten women and two men, listened to a little more than two full days of testimony as well as closing statements before they were released to deliberate at mid-morning on Friday.

During the deliberation, the jury requested to once again view footage of Yankey’s initial interview with a Riley County detective made in June 2012 after the victim had reported the alleged rape in May of that same year. (Yankey had moved back to Manhattan in 2009 to accept a faculty position at K-State.)

In the interview, Yankey can be seen telling the detective that he had not been aware of any allegations of rape until that day, recounting the meeting with the victim in which he claimed she did not mention rape.

The interview was used by the defense, represented by Barry Clark, to suggest that Yankey had no idea what the meeting with detectives involved and therefore had no time to make up a story.

But the state, represented by assistant county attorneys Barry Disney and Kendra Lewison, denied that claim, arguing the victim had told Yankey she raped him in their subsequent meeting and that her husband had accused him of the same during an angry phone call in 2009 after the victim had told him what allegedly happened.

Along with testimony from the victim and the defendant, jurors also heard from the victim’s husband, friends of both and police officers assigned to the case.

In closing statements, Disney told jurors to ask themselves what motive the victim had to make her story up. He argued there is no “normal” behavior for rape victims, despite the defense’s attempt to present her behavior following the alleged rape, which included social interactions with Yankey, as something a “normal” rape victim would not engage in.

But Clark argued the state had not provided any physical evidence of a crime and had failed to meet the burden of proof.

Though defense had not provided a motive for the victim’s claim during the trial, Clark posited in closing statements that the victim had made up her story during a heated argument with her husband. Clark suggested she had perhaps been worried that she had hidden what happened between her and Yankey in their bedroom—or the events Yankey claims she told him—and was too scared to tell him. “Maybe she kissed (Yankey) back,” Clark said.

Clark said the tragedy of the case is that Yankey has had his name dragged through the mud and his career wrecked.

Disney told jurors their job is not to worry about Yankey’s employment and discredited Clark’s claims, stating, “(the victim) deserves better.”

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