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Ex-USC football player ordered to stand trial in Utah rape case

SALT LAKE CITY — Former Brighton High and USC football standout Osa Masina was ordered Monday to stand trial after a 19-year-old woman testified that he sexually assaulted her.

The woman spoke softly from the witness stand as she gave a matter-of-fact account of an assault overnight at a party in Utah on July 24, as well as a prior incident in Masina's dorm room at the University of Southern California. During both incidents, she said, drug and alcohol use had left her incapacitated to the point that she couldn't verbally or physically resist.

Masina is charged in Utah with forcible rape and two counts of forcible sodomy, first-degree felonies. Charges have not been filed in California, where the incident has been investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department. Masina remains suspended from USC's football team and barred from returning to campus.

Before the hearing began, 3rd District Judge Keith Kelly denied a motion from attorney Bethany Warr, who represented the alleged victim in the case, arguing that the hearing should be closed to the public and the media while the woman testified. Backed by prosecutors, Warr argued that the woman’s testimony would be painful and graphic.

"The less people that are here, the more we are protecting her dignity and her right to privacy,” Warr said.

The motion was opposed by a coalition of media, including the Deseret News, KSL and other news outlets. Jeff Hunt, who represented the coalition, argued that Utah law specifies that court proceedings are presumed to be open, and that testimony in a preliminary hearing is “critical” to the judicial process.

"The arguments that we're hearing could be made by any crime victim,” Hunt said. “We don't close courtrooms for that."

Wearing a dark suit and tie, Masina sat up straight and showed no emotion as the woman testified. Masina did not take the stand, and his attorneys did not call any witnesses Monday.

Though she attended a different school, the woman testified Monday she had known Masina through friends since they were in high school when he was making headlines playing football for Brighton High. After Masina left to take a linebacker spot at USC, the woman said she sent him a message on Twitter wishing him happy birthday.

Masina responded, inviting her to visit him in L.A. He promised to take her to the beach, to dinner and to a party, the woman testified. When she arrived, she stayed in Masina's dorm room with him, agreeing to consensual sex and sleeping in his bed.

After the two went to a party together on July 14, where the woman said Masina gave her Xanax and wine, and then more intoxicants and marijuana at teammate Don Hill's apartment, the woman said she was left incapacitated. At one point, she came to, realizing that Masina was forcing her to perform a sex act before she blacked out again.

A video was allegedly taken of the incident and sent to the woman's ex-boyfriend, though she said Monday she didn't know it existed until after she had gone to police in Utah about the July 25 incident.

The woman said she tried talking to Masina later.

"I asked him how that happened, how that even got to that point," the woman testified, insisting she never would have consented to the encounter.

She said Masina's response was, "You said you wanted it, it was your idea. You said yes."

Unsure of herself, the woman said she tried to repress the experience, even maintaining a casual relationship messaging Masina. "I just tried to deny that it happened, I tried to say that something like that couldn't happen to me. I tried as hard as I could to push it down," she said.

On Pioneer Day, the woman said she received a message from Masina, who was visiting Utah and invited her to a house party in Cottonwood Heights. She agreed and said she began drinking and ate part of a cookie with marijuana in it.

The combination of the alcohol and marijuana left the woman nearly unable to function, she testified. She agreed to go get something to eat with Masina, wearing only her underwear and a towel because she'd gone swimming in a pool and had no swimsuit.

When they reached the restaurant, "I couldn't even get out of the car," the woman said. "I was so intoxicated, I couldn't move."

After returning to the house, she recalled only scattered memories, including waking up in pain, feeling "helpless, scared," and finding Masina having sex with her.

"It hurt, it was very painful," she said, answering that she had not consented to the encounter.

The woman said she passed out and awoke again, this time to Masina forcing a sex act, and was too incapacitated to fight back.

"I couldn't breathe, and I was scared," she said. "Just trying to tell myself to keep breathing was all I could do."

The next time she awoke, she was alone, the woman said, but desperate to get out of the house. She attempted to call her ex-boyfriend as well as his father for help, but was unable to reach either of them. Eventually, the woman said she forced herself to get outside, but collapsed in a neighbor's yard.

After eventually obtaining a ride to a friend's house, she said she began to feel the physical effects of the encounter — pain, bleeding and a temporary crown on a back tooth that was now missing.

It wasn't until her ex-boyfriend's father contacted her own father, suggesting something may have happened to the woman at the party, that the woman said she reported the assault to her parents. After that, they went to police.

Asked on cross-examination why she hadn't attempted to contact police sooner, the woman said she was scared.

"After I verbally said it, said it out loud, then I knew what he had done was wrong, and he had done it to me twice," the woman said.

Kelly bound Masina over on all three charges against him. He ultimately ruled that, because Masina had told police he had engaged in consensual intercourse with the woman, there was evidence the contact occurred, and because of the woman's description of her level of intoxication, there was evidence it was not consensual.