Tahlequah Daily Press

September 4, 2013

Pair accused of sexual assault at Illinois River camp

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com

Two men are free after allegedly sexually assaulting a woman who had passed out during a game of beer pong on the Illinois River.

Casey Strate, 22, of Dewey, and Andrew Dodson, 22, of Bartlesville, were initially booked into the Cherokee County Detention Center on charges of sexual assault, but a judge modified the charges to second-degree rape, records show.

Strate is free on a $40,000 bond, while Dodson left jail on a $20,000 bond, court records show.

Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission Capt. Bill James said rangers were called to Diamondhead Resort on State Highway 10 at about 12:20 a.m. Sunday morning.

“Information we have is that a group of people were all playing beer pong,” said James. “The victim apparently became extremely intoxicated and passed out, and the two assailants, Casey Strate and Andrew Dodson, were observed picking up the victim, carrying her to a tent, and at that point, they engaged in sexual acts with her.”

A friend of the 18-year-old alleged victim saw what was happening and went to get help, James said. Strate and Dodson were then told to leave and did so. Rangers Dustin Davis and Skylar Green were dispatched to the scene.

“The assailants are claiming consensual sex with the victim, but the information we got was that the victim was passed out and highly intoxicated,” said James. “She’s denying there was any consent.”

The woman was transported by ambulance to a local hospital and rangers collected physical evidence at the scene.

“We were going to go to the [Cherokee County] sheriff’s office [with the evidence], but they have elected not to get involved,” James said Tuesday.

James said he wanted investigators from the sheriff’s office to get involved because of their expertise, and because the scene of the incident is within the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office.

“My rangers are seasonal, most are part-time, and they handle public safety, drunks, fights, and environmental crimes,” James said.

Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault said the OSRC has the same jurisdiction as the sheriff’s office, and county officials didn’t feel it necessary to pick up on an investigation that was already underway.

“From what I can tell, their rangers have done everything they needed to do,” said Chennault.

James said after the sheriff’s office declined to get involved in the case, he contacted District Attorney Brian Kuester, who sent investigators to assist in obtaining search warrants.

“They are going to be working with us, and will take the lead,” said James.