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After four years and two mistrials, rape case is dismissed

Local

DRIGGS — The felony rape case against Tetonia resident Ryan Berry has been dismissed by the Teton County prosecutor. The case is the longest-standing sexual assault case in the county’s history with charges first filed in 2018. On March 15, after weathering a global pandemic, two mistrials, and a series of legal maneuvers that kept the case in play, Berry was free to go.

Berry, 42, was scheduled for his third jury selection on April 4, charged with the four felony counts including rape, destruction of evidence, supplying alcohol to a minor and video voyeurism. The case was dismissed by Prosecutor Bailey Smith after she requested a hearing with District Court Judge Steven Boyce on March 15.

She said in a follow-up call with EastIdahoNews.com this week that she would have liked to have brought Berry to justice, and was certain she could have, but the alleged victim in the case declined to participate this time around. Smith said she could not win the case without the alleged victim’s participation on the witness stand.

“(The alleged victim) has endured more hardships and trauma in her (life) than most people go through in their entire lives,” Smith said. “She has asked me to forgo retrying the case so that she can move on. That is a decision I have to respect.”

The case has a long history in the Teton County Courtroom. Former county prosecutor Billie Siddoway was unsuccessful in nailing down an Alford plea in 2019 after Berry refused to comply at the final hour of the plea. Smith first took the case to trial in May 2021, but was thwarted when Judge Boyce declared a mistrial when not enough jurors could be found to serve. In June 2021, Berry was charged again with a felony for attempting to influence a potential juror. That case is scheduled for a jury trial in May.

The case went to trial again in July 2021 only for Judge Boyce to declare a mistrial after a Teton County jury of eight women and four men said they had received confidential evidence during deliberation.

To date, the case has cost Teton County $19,336: $17,836 in public defense for Berry and $1,500 in jury costs. According to Teton County Clerk Kim Keeley, Berry’s defense attorney Jim Archibald has not submitted his final bill for Oct. 2021 through March 2022.

“The county has done everything it can to bring this case to a conclusion,” Smith said.

According to the Justice Department, less than 1% of sex assaults will lead to a conviction.

“Trials are incredibly stressful for victims, particularly victims of sexual assault,” said Smith. “They have to sit in the same room as their assailants, re-live painful events, and have a spotlight shone on some of the most private aspects of their lives. (The alleged victim) is one of the bravest young women I have met, and I want to be clear that I stand by her in her decision.”

Archibald did not return a request for comment.

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