Two men were formally charged with rape in a Pennington County courtroom Thursday while the woman who prosecutors say is the victim of the attack sat listening in the audience.
Toby M. Rolfe, 43, pleaded not guilty to third-degree rape, which prosecutors say was committed against an unconscious woman in Box Elder on Sept. 28.
Marvin S. Payne, 48, who was charged with sexually assaulting the same woman, pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting third-degree rape.
Rolfe, of Box Elder, and Payne, of Florissant, Colo., asked the court to lower their bonds of $500,000 each.
In an unusual moment during a routine hearing, the woman who was introduced to the court as the victim came forward and spoke against the bond reduction.
“I fear for my children and myself,” the 28-year-old woman told 7th Circuit Judge Robert Mandel. “I trusted and I was let down, and I’m asking not to be let down again.”
She spoke for less than a minute, all the time standing behind the defendants.
Mandel decreased the bonds to $25,000 but required cash only after considering the men’s danger to the community and their flight risk. He also ordered them to do twice-daily sobriety tests and appear when required.
The bond had initially been $500,000 cash or surety, meaning the men could have been released by paying a non-refundable 10 percent premium, or $50,000, to a bonding agency.
Deputy State’s Attorney Wayne Venhuizen had earlier told the court the prosecution held “overwhelming” evidence against the defendants. Four people saw the woman being sexually assaulted and saw Payne taking photos that showed Rolfe assaulting her, Venhuizen said.
In a previous hearing, the prosecutor said alcohol was involved in the incident. The woman, he said, remembers having one drink before passing out. By the time first responders arrived, she was barely breathing and her pulse couldn’t be felt.
Payne’s lawyer, George Grassby, had described the allegation as “aberrant behavior” for his client. He introduced two people who showed up in court to support his client: Payne’s employer as an electrician, who flew up from Colorado, and Payne’s older brother, a decades-long law enforcement officer.
Rolfe’s attorney, Jeffrey Connolly, described a bond of $500,000 as “higher than necessary” to ensure the community’s safety and to prevent Rolfe from fleeing. He said Rolfe is a local homeowner with steady employment, a single father to a teenage boy, and has cooperated with authorities in the past as a court witness.
Rolfe denied the allegation that he is a repeat offender with a couple of South Dakota convictions for driving while intoxicated.
Third-degree rape is a felony that carries a punishment of up to 25 years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.