BC-US--Ex-Hockey Player-Rape Charges,1st Ld-Writethru, US
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Prosecutors in Oklahoma have dismissed a rape charge against a retired Tulsa Oilers hockey player from Canada.
Defense attorney Kent Hudson said he believes prosecutors don’t have enough evidence to prosecute Doug Lawrence, 50, on charges of first-degree rape and sexual battery, the Tulsa World reported.
“I ... want to applaud the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office for taking that stance, because we’re not in a system of trying to guess people into prison,” Hudson said.
Prosecutors allege Lawrence drunkenly touched a woman’s breast without her consent and raped her in 2017, according to court records. Lawrence pleaded not guilty and was scheduled to go on trial Monday, the same day the charges were dismissed.
Prosecutors determined the case was “untenable,” and dismissed the charges without prejudice, meaning the charges could be refiled later, District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler said.
“As always, the charging of a person with a crime does not alter that person’s presumption of innocence,” Kunzweiler said in the prepared statement. “That presumption remains until or unless a judge or a jury determines otherwise.”
Lawrence said the dismissal hasn’t sunk in yet.
Lawrence, of Richmond, British Columbia, spent nine seasons playing for the Tulsa Oilers of the ECHL, a Double-A hockey league. He was on the 1992-93 team that won the Central Hockey League championship.
Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com