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Ex-USC player gets 1 year in jail for sexual battery

By Pat Reavy, KSL  |  Posted Dec 5th, 2017 @ 5:40pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Former Brighton High School and University of Southern California football star Osa Masina was sentenced Tuesday to serve a year in the Salt Lake County Jail for sexual battery.

Masina, 20, was ordered to be taken into custody immediately. He and some members of his family and friends gathered in the courtroom were visibly upset as the imposing 6-foot-4 athlete was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

"I'm very disappointed with it," Masina's attorney, Greg Skordas, said of the sentence after the hearing. "We expected and hoped for a lesser jail sentence."

On the other side, the victim in the case, a woman Masina has known since high school, said while she's not sure justice was served by what she felt was a light sentence, she was happy to finally have the opportunity to tell her side of the story in public.

"I feel like a lot of people weren't sure of what really happened, and I feel like I was able to tell the story and the true story and how it's affected me. (The defense) talked a lot about how he's lost everything. But I don't think a lot of people realize what I've lost. All the therapy sessions I had to be in, all the nights that I couldn't sleep, the nightmares, the flashbacks. I'm really happy that his family and everybody else got to hear what really happened," she said.

The woman asked that her name not be used.

Masina pleaded guilty in October to three counts of sexual battery, a class A misdemeanor. He was originally charged with forcible rape and two counts of forcible sodomy, all first-degree felonies punishable by up to life in prison.

Third District Judge Keith Kelly sentenced Masina to one year in jail on each of the sexual battery counts and ordered that those counts be served consecutively. He then suspended the sentences for two of those charges in lieu of probation.

Masina was accused of raping the woman in Cottonwood Heights following a party with friends. The woman was heavily intoxicated at the time. She argued she never gave consent for the sex, let alone the brutal nature of the assault that left her with physical injuries. Masina said he believed the sex was consensual.

"I never had the chance to say no," she said. "I never had the chance to even fight him off or resist or anything."

That incident followed a similar encounter in Los Angeles when the woman went to meet up with Masina. Despite having consensual sex on the first night, she said she became heavily intoxicated and was raped the second night.

"It doesn't matter what you've done previously or what happened before, all that matters it what happened at that moment, and I think that's something everybody else needs to learn. Just because you do something with somebody doesn't mean that you can just do whatever you want for the rest of your life," the woman said.

"Just because you had consensual sex with somebody one time does not mean you can have sex with them whenever."

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In the courtroom Tuesday, the woman went into graphic detail about the brutality of both assaults.

"There are no words to describe the pain and hurt you’ve caused me," she told Masina. "There's not a day that goes by that I don’t think of what you did to me."

After the incident, the woman said she was victimized again by having to relive the incident by answering many detailed questions about what happened, and then reading hurtful comments on social media that blamed her.

"This story is not made up. It is not a rumor. It is not a lie," she said in court.

The woman said after she was raped in California, she tried to justify in her mind what had occurred.

"I did not want to accept the reality of what happened," she said.

"The No. 1 question on everyone's mind when this came out: Why did she hang out with him again? That was what everyone wanted to know," said Bethany Warr, the attorney representing the victim in the case. "When something happens to you that you know is wrong and you know wasn't OK, your brain will literally go into overtime trying to convince yourself that everything's OK. 'A friend wouldn't do that to me.'"

Skordas points out it was prosecutors who recommended the plea deal to reduced misdemeanor charges, which Masina accepted to not risk being convicted on the more serious felonies at trial. He told the court that the woman exchanged text messages after the California incident talking about how they had such a great weekend.

Before the sentence was formally handed down, the woman told the judge that a year in jail would be a "slap in the face" for what happened and the pain she has endured.

Masina's attorneys painted a different picture of the man, saying he has "impeccable character" and does not pose a risk to women.

"This is a fine young man who is not defined by all of the accusations that have been made against him. In fact, I would have him in my home, without hesitation, with my daughter and my family present," said attorney Rebecca Hyde Skordas.

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While prosecutors acknowledged that Masina may be a nice man and a good athlete, he has another side.

"There’s another side to Osa Masina that he does not show to most people," Salt Lake County deputy district attorney Donna Kelly said.

Masina offered an apology in court and said he would "move forward" and better himself for the future.

"I am going to take responsibility for everything that I have done," he said.

But Warr didn't believe Masina actually apologized to her client for assaulting her, but rather apologized for the whole court process.

"I think he's sorry everyone has had to go through this. But I actually don't think he's sorry for his actions," she said after the hearing.

The woman said she hoped her case will give other victims courage to take action. She hopes it might also do something to change the culture of entitlement among men, particularly athletes.

"I hope all people who have been victims of sexual assault feel that they can come forward. I mean, I know the process is extremely hard. But I know for me being able to put the story out there and telling my story and telling what happened has helped me a lot to start that healing process," she said.

"Just because they are athletes they aren't entitled to whatever they want. It's not the victim's fault. It never is the victim's fault. The victim doesn't ask for this."

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