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Former Hamline student found guilty

A jury found Pierce Heston guilty on two charges of sexual assault over two years after the incident took place on campus.

Emilia Nolan, Reporter

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A jury found former Hamline University student and football player, Pierce Heston, guilty of raping another former Hamline student in 2016, on Friday, Nov. 16.

The Ramsey County Court concluded that Heston, now 25 years old, is guilty of first- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct, meaning that he is now facing up to 12 years in prison for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and up to 15 years for third-degree, according to state guidelines. However, he is currently out of custody with conditions until his sentencing hearing, which is scheduled to take place in late January.

The victim, a woman and former student, has remained anonymous to the press throughout the trial. She testified that, on the night of May 15, 2016, Heston offered to walk her back to her dormitory in Schilling Hall after a party. She was 18 and he was 22. Both had been drinking. She testified that he walked with her to her room, where, upon entering, he made “sexual advances” towards her, which she denied. Finally, she affirmed that he sexually assaulted her, forcing her to perform oral sex on him before raping her. Oral exams taken at Regions Hospital confirmed much of what was stated in her testimony, according to her attorney.

Heston testified that the woman was a “full participant,” stating that she willingly consented to all sexual encounters that occurred on the night in question. He testified that the victim invited him up to her room to drink “spiced rum they both liked,” according to a description of the testimonies published in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. Heston went on record saying about the sexual encounters, “She was enjoying it, like myself.” The next morning, he claimed that his coach called him stating that Hamline’s Title IX department wanted to speak with him. Heston, in court, said that he was “dumbstruck” upon hearing this.

President Miller sent out an email addressing the trial on  Nov. 13.

“While this matter is now in the hands of the legal system, we want to assure you that the university worked closely with the students involved to ensure the appropriate process took place.” The email also reminded students of support offered on campus to victims of sexual assault, such as the Counseling and Health Services Center and the Dean of Students office.

First-year Benjamin Manning believes that the publicity of the trial has changed his views of Hamline.

“It affects how I view Hamline,” Manning said. “I really thought that it was a small campus with fewer students and, because of that, that it would be safer, and it really sucks that this kind of thing can happen in a place where you think you’re going to be safe. As a person, I really want my friends to feel safe and happy…and it makes me feel upset that this is another thing that’s going to make people I know feel afraid on this campus.”

Concerning the verdict, Manning believed that it was a fair trial.

“[Heston] was the worst kind of human being. He deserves what he got,” Manning said.

First-year Andrea Lindner, however, does not believe that the trial should affect how people view Hamline.

“I’ve heard about [the trial], but I don’t know a lot about it,” Lindner said. “But I… don’t know if it has an impact, or shows anything about, the school. I feel like no matter where you go, you’re going to have cases of sexual assault just because of how our society kind of views it, and how we victim blame a lot. I don’t know if [the trial] says anything about our school, but it says a lot about our society as a whole.”

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Former Hamline student found guilty