A criminal case has been dropped against a 58-year-old Harrisburg man accused of sexually assaulting a woman at the 2016 Bi-Mart Willamette Country Music Festival.
Terry Allen Pepiot had been charged with four counts of first-degree sodomy, six counts of first-degree sexual abuse, two counts of second-degree sexual abuse and two counts of fourth-degree assault in the incident, which involved a 20-year-old woman known in court records as Jane Doe.
Prosecutors filed a motion in Linn County Circuit Court on Sept. 4 to dismiss the case without prejudice, meaning it could be retried if more evidence is brought up during the allowed statute of limitations.
The motion states "exculpatory evidence" had been received, making the state unable to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
"A vital witness in this case recently communicated to me that her view of the evidence in this case had changed. That person's statements about the evidence have significantly undercut the State's case," District Attorney Douglas Marteeny said in a statement about the dismissal.
Marteeny noted it is the responsibility of the district attorney to constantly evaluate the strength of evidence to preserve the integrity of the system.
"I have to evaluate the evidence as it is and as the jury will see it," he wrote. "I have a duty to pursue cases where the evidence establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Likewise, it is my duty to dismiss when sufficient evidence is no longer available.
"Here, with this new evidence, the State's burden cannot be met, so I had to dismiss the case. These are some of the most difficult decisions that a D.A. has to make."
Jane Doe told Linn County sheriff's deputies she attended the music festival on Aug. 13, 2016, and drank alcohol there. She then went to an after-party hosted by one of the festival's sponsors and said she was assaulted by a man who lured her into a motor home.
She said she passed out in the motor home and the man undressed her and performed sex acts on her without her consent.
The original trial in the criminal case, held in January, ended in a mistrial because the prosecution made an error regarding evidence. A new trial had been slated for October.
Court records indicate a $2.25 million civil suit, filed Aug. 9 in Lane County Circuit Court against the organizers of the Bi-Mart Willamette Country Music Festival itself, is still progressing.
The lawsuit accuses the festival organizers of negligence, saying adequate security wasn't provided and underage drinking was allowed. It alleges the festival failed to enforce its own alcohol polices and failed to monitor or supervise festival attendees.
Doe is seeking up to $1.5 million for pain, anxiety, loss of dignity and other noneconomic claims, and economic damages of up to $750,000 for medical care, counseling, lost wages and impairment to her future earning capacity.