A state appeals court in San Francisco has upheld the conviction and four-year sentence of a former University of California at Berkeley football player for the rape and attempted rape of two female students.
Noah Alexander Smith, now 24, was convicted in Alameda County Superior Court in 2009 of the rape and forcible oral copulation of one student in 2007 and the attempted rape of another in 2005.
He was sentenced by Judge Thomas Reardon to four years in prison. Reardon cited Smith’s lack of a previous criminal record as a reason for rejecting prosecutors’ bid for the maximum possible term of 17 years.
Smith, a Riverside County resident who graduated from UC Berkeley in 2007, was a wide receiver on the football team.
He claimed in his defense at the trial that the women consented to the sexual encounters.
During the trial, three other students testified they had experienced similar sexual assaults against their will and said Smith told them he had an illness for which he needed help in collecting sperm samples.
Smith was not criminally charged in connection with those incidents because the women had declined to press charges.
In a ruling issued on Thursday, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and sentence.
The panel rejected Smith’s claim on appeal that the jury was prejudiced by the testimony of the three other women about incidents for which he was never convicted.
The court said that admission of the testimony was allowable because it was relevant to Smith’s claim that the women consented to the sexual encounters.
“This evidence was logically related to defendant’s credibility, which was a crucial issue at the trial,” the court said.
Smith’s lawyer in the appeal, Al Fadel Amer, was not immediately available for comment on whether he plans a further appeal to the California Supreme Court.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News