Man denies rape charge, accuses county of corruption in letter to EastIdahoNews.com
ST. ANTHONY — A Utah man accused of raping an adult family member admits to having sex with the alleged victim but says he is falsely accused of a crime and being held against his will in the Fremont County Jail.
In a one-page handwritten letter sent to EastIdahoNews.com, Jacob Oberg accuses Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney Marcia Murdoch of using “hearsay evidence” and convincing Judge Darren Simpson of setting his bail at $500,000 “to make sure there is no possible way of making bail.”
“I was arrested in my own bed in Utah and extradited to Fremont County Jail in St. Anthony, ID,” Oberg wrote. “The prosecutor has charged me with rape based on hearsay and fabricated Snapchat messages that have not been authenticated.”
The alleged incident
Oberg is accused of drugging and raping a then-23-year-old female relative while on a June 2017 camping trip in Island Park. Court documents show the incident was reported to Fremont County Sheriff deputies over the phone by the victim’s stepfather sometime afterward.
The victim told officers she drank a beer given to her by Oberg during the outing and then became dizzy, “felt paralyzed” and like her fingers were tingling. She says she went in and out of consciousness, but could see Oberg sexually assaulting her. She said she wasn’t able to do anything to defend herself as she couldn’t move her arms or legs.
She told detectives that she remembered hearing the sounds of a camera click from a cell phone and thought Oberg had documented the incident. Snapchat messages retrieved from Oberg’s phone show he and the victim discussed the alleged encounter afterward.
“Ok sorry that I went too far, I was drunk, I know that is no exvuse (sic),” Oberg allegedly wrote in one message to the woman.
Court documents show Oberg has a history of sexually abusing the victim while she was between the ages of 8 and 12, and he was a juvenile. He was caught by a family member and formally charged. That case is sealed due to the suspect being a juvenile at that time.
A trial on the rape charge in October 2018 ended with a hung jury after five and a half hours of deliberation. During the trial, Michael J. Mitchell, a convicted felon who was in the Fremont County Jail with Oberg, said Oberg spoke to him about the alleged sexual assault.
“(Oberg told me), ‘I took advantage of her, and who cares? I gave her some drugs to loosen her up,’” Mitchell testified.
Mitchell said while he and Oberg were incarcerated, Oberg showed him photocopies of Snapchat messages between him and the relative. He asked Mitchell what a jury would think when they saw them, and Mitchell said the messages were “probably one of the worse things I’ve ever read.”
A new trial is scheduled for Oberg on March 26. In his letter to EastIdahoNews.com, he accuses Murdoch of giving Mitchell “a great deal” to testify against him.
“I feel like there is a culture of corruption in Fremont County. The prosecutor has given a jailhouse informant a great deal to write a false statement against me,” Oberg writes. “She is going to put him on the stand again at my second trial to say false statements. The informant plead (sic) guilty to two trafficking charges for 10 pounds of marijuana and 83 grams of meth. He is in prison for his crimes currently. This is the type of corruption the prosecutor has stooped too, to (sic) force convictions.”
Murdoch tells EastIdahoNews.com that Mitchell came forward with information on Oberg after he had entered into a plea agreement and his testimony against Oberg did not influence his own charges or sentencing.
“The confidential informant came forward on his own with no promises that he was going to get anything,” Murdoch says. “He came forward after we had a signed plea agreement with no promises of anything.”
In his letter, Oberg accuses Murdoch of using “hearsay evidence” to charge him and states “there was no drug test done, no DNA was found, no blood, no hair, no rape kit, or any pictures taken to show any bruising or tearing.”
“Yes I had consensual sex with (the victim),” he writes. “We were both drunk and our minds foggy. We both made the choice that morning to persue (sic) intimate relations. I did not rape, not drug her on that night or morning.”
Murdoch did not comment on evidence but said accusations of corruption are “completely invalid and false.”
“I’m treating him the same as I would treat any other person facing the charges he’s facing,” she said.
Murdoch notes that before his original trial, Oberg made a request to move the court proceedings to another jurisdiction because of coverage by EastIdahoNews.com. Yet in his letter, Oberg asks “that everyone writes storys (sic) and talk about my case on the radio, news, and TV.”
“He’s the one who filed a motion for a change of venue. This (letter) is likely just a ploy on his part to get more out of the issue,” Murdoch says.
Oberg is also facing one felony charge of perjury after he allegedly filled out paperwork saying he has never been convicted of a felony. A separate jury trial is scheduled for that charge on May 9.