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A week before trial, former USU student pleads guilty in rape case

Jason Relopez appears in 1st District Court for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 6, 2015. Relopez pleaded guilty Tuesday to reduced charges of attempted forcible sexual abuse and attempted rape, both first-degree felonies.
Jason Relopez appears in 1st District Court for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 6, 2015. Relopez pleaded guilty Tuesday to reduced charges of attempted forcible sexual abuse and attempted rape, both first-degree felonies.
Eli Lucero

LOGAN — Just days before he was set to stand trial, a former Utah State University student and fraternity member accused of sexually assaulting two women pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

Jason Brian Relopez, 27, pleaded guilty Tuesday to reduced charges of attempted forcible sexual abuse and attempted rape, both first-degree felonies.

Relopez, of Hemet, California, was originally charged with aggravated sexual assault and rape, both first-degree felonies. An earlier charge of aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony, was dropped prior to a preliminary hearing in August.

Two women, both of whom met Relopez through the school's Greek system, testified at the preliminary hearing that they had been spending time with Relopez when he became violent and frightening.

A 19-year-old woman said she was at a party at the Sigma Chi fraternity house in July when she ended up alone in Relopez's room. They were kissing when Relopez slapped her and began a night of demoralizing sexual encounters that she said she couldn't object to without putting herself at risk, she testified.

A 20-year-old woman also testified she had been studying with Relopez at her house late one night in October 2014 when they began kissing. Though she said no when Relopez asked if she wanted to "go all the way," Relopez pinned her and raped her, the woman said.

Ashamed, she contacted school officials but did not approach police until she heard of the second woman's allegations.

As part of Relopez's plea deal, prosecutors will recommend that sentences on the two charges run concurrently. Relopez will complete a psychosexual evaluation and, if found to be low-risk, prosecutors will recommend one year in jail and release to a treatment program.

"If the defendant is medium or high risk, then there are no deals at sentencing and the state will recommend prison," the plea agreement states.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 29.

Relopez is the second USU fraternity brother to plead guilty in recent months. In October, former Pi Kappa Alpha President Ryan Wray, 27, pleaded guilty to attempted forcible sexual abuse, a third-degree felony, and was sentenced to six months in jail.

Wray was arrested after a woman reported to law enforcement that she had been drinking and fell asleep at the fraternity house, waking to find Wray touching her inappropriately, according to police. Wray had apparently been designated by the fraternity to assist inebriated women.

USU banned alcohol from Pi Kappa Alpha and Sigma Chi events and sanctioned both fraternities in September following Relopez's arrest. The two fraternities are not allowed to recruit new members for a year.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: McKenzieRomero