A Minneapolis-area man charged with raping a 20-year-old woman near Jordan in August waived his right to a speedy trial last week, pushing the likely trial date to mid-summer.
Austin Jeffrey Jones was in Scott County District Court on Jan. 30 for an omnibus hearing ahead of his trial. Jones is being held in the Scott County jail on three felony charges: first-degree criminal sexual conduct, second-degree criminal sexual conduct and being a predatory offender in violation of registration requirements.
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.
According to the charging documents, the victim of the Aug. 7 rape was renting a room at the SCALE Training Facility near Jordan when she went to the parking lot 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. At the time of the alleged assault, the victim was on the phone with her boyfriend, who called the police soon after. Police responded to the area and found the cell phone in the parking lot, and rescued the woman after hearing her coughing from a swampy area behind the building.
Jones’ attorney Robert Sicoli disclosed in court documents that he may rely on the defense of an alibi, saying he’s provided prosecutors with 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.
At the court hearing, the defense filed a motion to dismiss the charge for violation of predatory offender registration requirements. As a homeless individual, Jones was required to inform local police of his location before spending 24 hours in a community. Sicoli argued for the charge to be dismissed on grounds of probable cause and improper venue. District Court Judge Rex Stacey has yet to rule on the motion.
Sicoli also requested investigation records from the Rochester Police Department and the police department in Lake Mills, Iowa, where the victim previously claimed to have been raped by a stranger. No charges were filed in either investigation.