Sexual assault charges against Steven Feagin -- the
former Deerfield Beach High School football standout who went on to play
running back at the University of Illinois -- were dropped due to the credibility of the alleged victim, according to a closeout memo from the Broward State Attorney's Office.
Feagin, now 41 years old, was arrested in September 2008 after the Broward Sheriff's Office said the "accused serial rapist" had sexually assaulted one woman in Pompano Beach and three others in Illinois. Feagin still faces charges for the three Illinois cases, but the Pompano Beach case is out after nearly three years of strange behavior from the alleged victim.
Since the day the woman called the police saying she was attacked, June 10, 2007, she told investigators -- and even the 911 dispatcher -- that she believed her ex-boyfriend committed the crime.
While detectives began investigating the ex-boyfriend, the FBI confirmed to police that the woman was a witness against her ex-boyfriend in a case regarding fraudulent insurance claims on automobiles.
Investigators got a warrant for the ex-boyfriend's cellphone records around the time of the attack, finding that the phone was in Boca Raton.
The man also voluntarily allowed police to collect his DNA, and by April 2008, it was determined his DNA profile did not match that found on the alleged victim's bed sheets.
After detectives reached out to police in the Illinois cases, Feagin became a suspect,specifically noting Feagin's locations during the crimes, as well as the similarity between all four victims -- each being blond women with light-colored eyes.
A warrant was obtained for Feagin's DNA, and on September 29, 2008, the Broward Sheriff's Office crime lab identified a match between Feagin's DNA and that found on the alleged victim's bed sheets in Pompano Beach.
After his arrest, police took another statement from the alleged victim. She told them Feagin was her neighbor, and said Feagin's wife was her "best friend." The woman said they would visit each others' houses occasionally, and that Feagin would often seek marital advice from her.
In her memo, Assistant State Attorney Nicole Alvarez says she was assigned the case from the beginning, and first met with the alleged victim shortly after charges were filed against Feagin.
Immediately, she said it was her ex-boyfriend who sexually assaulted her, even though she'd already been told Feagin's DNA matched.
Alvarez says she explained to her how DNA worked, what the Combined DNA Index System was, and answered all of her questions, but the woman still believed it was her ex-boyfriend.
Over the next few months, the alleged victim began to concoct what would generally be considered conspiracy theories.
First, she accused her ex-boyfriend of possibly paying Feagin to sexually assault her, and added another man had knowledge of this. That man was in prison at the time of the attack.
Then, the memo says the woman "began accusing the FBI of covering up" for her ex-boyfriend.
"Several times, [redacted] stated that the FBI was part of her attack," Alvarez writes. "She then began to say that I was covering up for [the ex-boyfriend] because he had turned state evidence."
The woman then started harassing Feagin's wife, calling her numerous times, then contacting her family members on Facebook after she changed her phone number.
In the meantime, the alleged victim's conspiracies continued.
Aside from the idea that it was an elaborate setup by the FBI and the State Attorney's Office, she also began saying she knew a pair of DEA agents who could confirm that Feagin and her ex-boyfriend were arrested together in a drug case, but couldn't quite remember the names of those agents -- probably because that wasn't true either, according to the memo.
The woman also changed her story a few times over the three years, at one point saying she saw her ex-boyfriend's car outside her house after the attack, and also claimed she'd suffered a broken jaw during the attack -- which she hadn't.
Earlier this year, the State Attorney's Office flew the three alleged Illinois victims to Florida for a Williams Rule hearing to strengthen the prosecution's case against Feagin in the Pompano Beach attack, but that motion was denied after the court found the cases were not similar.
By April of this year, the woman was found by a doctor to be not competent to testify, although the doctor claimed she could become competent through counseling and medication.
Meanwhile, the woman was contacting the daughter of a police officer from Urbana, Illinois -- the city where the other three attacks occurred -- and would also call Alvarez' office a bit too often.
By May, the State Attorney's Office discovered that the woman had sent a letter to more than 150 members of the media, including Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein -- which is already a problem since Finkelstein is the boss of Feagin's public defender.
The letter apparently included a statement that a separate doctor declared the woman competent to testify, although that doctor claimed during a deposition "that she was not qualified nor was it in her area of expertise to evaluate someone for competency in this context."
On August 26, Alvarez told the woman she was dropping the charges, spending 2.5 hours explaining it all to her.
At that time, Alvarez writes the woman still believes it was her ex-boyfriend who sexually assaulted her, and that prosecutors were protecting him to pin the crime on Feagin.
That makes the only piece of evidence tying Feagin to the scene of the crime is his DNA on the bed sheet, which Alvarez says doesn't even prove any form of actual sexual contact.
Combining the three years of credibility issues and persistent allegations, Alvarez says the state couldn't move forward with the allegations, even though she believed Feagin raped the woman, according to the memo.
"It was with a heavy heart that I dismissed these charges," Alvarez writes.
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