A Minneapolis-area man charged with raping a 20-year-old woman in a swampy wooded area near Jordan on Aug. 7 says he has an alibi: He was at a Holiday gas station in Plymouth at the time of the rape, according to court documents.
Austin Jeffrey Jones is charged with three felonies and being held in the Scott County jail.
According to the charging documents, the victim was renting a room at the SCALE Training Facility near Jordan while working at Valleyfair, and was on the phone with her boyfriend after an after-hours “ride night” at Valleyfair, where the park stays open later for employees. She went outside the SCALE building to her car around 1 a.m., and noticed a man authorities say was Jones next to a tree. The woman thought he needed help and approached him, and that’s when she was allegedly attacked.
Jones is charged with taking her to a wooded area behind the building, binding her neck with a belt and raping her. Her boyfriend notified authorities after hearing her say “Ouch that hurts” and drop the phone. Police quickly responded to the area and found the cell phone in the parking lot, and rescued the woman after hearing her coughing from the swampy area. She was partially disrobed and covered in grass, dirt and weeds, gagging, coughing and “unresponsive, shivering” and appeared to be in shock, with a belt around her neck. Authorities believe she may have had a seizure during the assault; she takes medication to control seizures.
Jones’ attorney disclosed in court documents that he may rely on the defense of an alibi, saying he’s provided prosecutors with a surveillance video from a Holiday Station Store in Plymouth that shows Jones in the store at about 1:26 a.m. The store is about 35 minutes from the scene of the crime, which occurred at about 1 a.m.
“Therefore, the defendant could not have committed the crime,” Jones’ attorney, Robert Sicoli wrote in the document. says.
Scott County prosecutors have filed motions seeking to impeach Jones with his prior felony convictions and “crimes of dishonesty.” The felony convictions the prosecutors want to |bring up at trial are a third-degree sex crime in Carver County in 2012 and a burglary in Dakota County in 2014.
Prosecutors have also filed a motion to prohibit the defense from asking questions in the presence of the jury about the victim’s previous sexual conduct or offer any evidence of the victim’s past sexual experiences pursuant to state law, adding that “the probative value of such evidence does not substantially outweigh the inflammatory or prejudicial nature of that evidence.”
The night of the rape, Jones was found about a mile away from the crime scene, slumped over in a pickup. He said he’d been sleeping. Officers did a criminal history check on him and learned he was required to register as a predatory offender. His Hennepin County probation agent said he was not in compliance with his registration requirements and was homeless.
He told officers he was looking for a job and staying with friends. It appeared he was living out of the pickup, because it contained clothes, tools and other items, according to court documents.
He was arrested, but initial DNA tests came back negative. After 48 hours, Scott County had to release him because they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him, but additional DNA testing continued. He was then sent to Carver County on a predatory offender registration violation, but was released without bail on Aug. 13.
Jones was previously convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in 2012 for the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl in December 2010, when he was 18 years old. He spent 90 days in jail, mostly on work release, and was ordered to serve probation until 2027, according to court documents.
The rape victim has publicly questioned why Jones was only sentenced to 90 days and served little time despite multiple probation violations for marijuana possession, burglary in 2014 and underage drinking. Twice, he was ordered to serve 90 days in the Carver County Jail for violating his probation, in 2014 and 2016. He spent 210 days in custody in Carver County.
Jones was homeless at the time of the Jordan rape but his last known addresses were in Eden Prairie and Minneapolis.