Charles Greg Sargent and Jeffrey Duane Logan have known each other virtually all their lives. They grew up just down the street from each other in a quiet neighborhood in Mansfield, Ohio.
Their mothers attended church together. With their brothers, they played together, grew up together, dreamed together of what the future might offer. At that time, they were no different than millions of other boys growing up in the American heartland.Since Aug. 23, 1984, however, their dreams have turned into a nightmare.
While most young men their ages are starting careers and raising families, Sargent, 27, and Logan, 23, are serving five-years-to-life sentences in the Utah State Prison for aggravated rape.
It's a crime both men maintain they did not commit, although they admit they did some very stupid things. It's a crime several witnesses say could not have occurred. It's a crime an investigating police officer says never happened.
"The evidence just wasn't there," said 6th Circuit Judge David Mower, who defended the men in their 1984 trial before he was appointed to the bench. "I'm still convinced they were sent to prison for a crime they did not commit."
Even some officials at the Utah State Prison who supervise the young men are convinced the men are not guilty of rape.
"When you work with prisoners every day, you learn to recognize a con job," said one prison official, who asked not to be named. "And I'm absolutely convinced these men are telling the truth when they say they didn't do it."
Even fellow inmates, who traditionally prey on sex offenders, have left the men alone. "The other inmates know they didn't do it."
Sixth District Judge Don Tibbs, who sentenced the men to prison, once expressed doubts about the men's guilt to a Utah State Prison official and officially requested that both men be given leniency by the Board of Pardons. (Tibbs refused comment to a Deseret News inquiry.)
Nevertheless, Sargent and Logan
sit in prison cells. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. Waiting for a day in November 1989 when they will be paroled.
*** It was a long, tedious drive from Ohio to California. Sargent had moved to California several years before; Logan was a Navy seaman stationed on a ship anchored in a California port. I-70 through Colorado and Utah was the most direct route.
"I first saw her at a rest stop in Colorado," remembers Sargent. "She winked at us and flirted with us. She was real friendly."
As Sargent and Logan pulled out of the rest stop and headed west, they noticed the attractive young woman had pulled out of the rest stop a few moments before. They followed her for awhile, even pulling alongside and waving. She smiled and waved back. Through Colorado and into Utah, the two cars leapfrogged.
I-70 between Green River, Emery County, and Salina, Sevier County, is a beautiful but uninhabited stretch of highway. For more than 100 miles, there is no place to fill up with gasoline or repair a broken-down car, no rooms to spend the night.
It was on that stretch of highway that the young woman's car began to slow and eventually come to a stop. Sargent and Logan pulled up behind her to see what the problem was.
"We checked her car and found it didn't have any oil," said Logan. "So we offered to take her to the next town to get oil and bring her back."
A couple of hours later, the oil had been replaced and the two cars were once again on their way. They had gone only a few miles when the car engine began smoking. Oil sprayed out, pieces of engine fell to the ground, and the car once again limped to a halt, this time beyond make-do repairs.
"We offered to take her into town so she could get a room," Logan said. "We were getting to be pretty good friends by that time. There was a lot of laughing and joking."
On the drive into town, the woman, who said her name was Sabrina, explained that she was a 21-year-old college student who had been on summer vacation in Colorado. She was returning to her home in Washington state.
The way she dressed, her makeup, her looks and demeanor all reflected a woman of considerable worldly experience. By all appearances, she was everything she said she was.
*** "I'm going to go party down," the young woman told Jeff Jacobsen, the manager of the Safari Motel in Salina, as she paid for a single room. "I'm going to go get drunk. My car's broke down, and I'll call my father in the morning and get some more money. Right now, I don't care."
Jacobsen was suspicious. She had paid for a single room for the night, but she was traveling with two male companions. Would they be staying with her?
No, she said. Fixing her car had been a hot and dirty job, and the two men just wanted to clean up and drink a few beers before continuing on their way.
"I'm going to buy some beer and party," she told the clerk. "If you want to have a good time, come up and party with us."
Jacobsen declined. "There was no question in my mind she was talking about sex and booze," he said. "Even when I told her I was married, she kept insisting I come up and party with her."
After retrieving the key, the trio went to a neighboring service station and bought a case of beer. "We're going to buy some beer and have a party," the young woman told the attendant as she handed him identification that listed her age as 21. "You guys want to come party with us?"
"She asked at least five guys in the service station to come up to the room and party," Jacobsen said.
After buying beer, the three traveling companions then went to the young woman's room. Over the next two hours, they drank cold beers and took turns showering.
According to the men, they drank a lot of beer and had relations with the young woman. Then the motel manager called the room to say they would have to pay extra if the men didn't leave.
As Logan and Sargent got their belongings together, they noticed a wad of cash lying in open view in the young woman's purse. One of them reached down and took $68 as they walked out.
"It was a stupid, stupid thing to do," said Logan, "and I still don't know why we did it."
*** Sabrina was not 21 years old, nor was her name Sabrina. She was, in fact, a 15-year-old runaway on her way home to Washington - an admittedly promiscuous young woman who had run away from home on several occasions.
It was about 8 p.m. when Salina police officer Gary Keller was summoned to the Safari Motel. An emotionally distraught teenager was claiming she had been raped by two men who had tied her down, threatened her repeatedly and cut her in several places with broken glass.
Piecing together the teenager's story, Sevier County Attorney Don Brown said, "I think we are dealing here with two young men who became disappointed. Being the young men that they are, they went to that room expecting much more than she intended for them.
"She tells them she is 21 years old, she's traveling alone, she doesn't appear to be unknowledgeable and unlearned. So when she took them to the motel room, I think it is quite possible they thought they were going to engage in relations with her consent, and I can imagine their consternation when they'd been drinking beers for hours and waiting for the time to come and then the phone call comes, and they've got to leave or pay for the room."
That was the story Brown told jurors deciding the case. It was the story the jurors believed.
But it's a story that has left a sour taste in the mouths of some of those most familiar with the case.
"When I first heard her story, my heart went out to her," said Keller, the investigating officer. "Then when I started looking at the story closer, there were things that just didn't fit. On the surface it looked like a good case, but the more I thought about it, the more determined I became that it just couldn't have happened the way she said it did."
According to the teenager's story, the men tied one of her arms to a hanging swag-lamp cord and then held her other arm down while they assaulted her. When she fought, they smashed an ash tray and used a jagged piece of glass to cut her arms, legs and chest and terrorize her into submission.
She also claimed the men left her tied to the bed as they hauled their belongings to their car and that it took her another 30 minutes to recover her composure, free herself and summon help.
Keller is skeptical of the cuts. "They were scratches, really," he said. "Most of them didn't break the skin, and those that did just barely made red marks. And they were all in places you could reach yourself. None of them were serious, and they certainly looked self-inflicted to me."
Keller was eventually assigned other investigations. He assumed the officers still investigating the rape, including Salina Police Chief Gordon Kiesel, would also see the inconsistencies between the evidence and the teenager's story.
*** Evidence against Logan and Sargent was based almost exclusively upon the testimony of the 15-year-old. But Jacobsen, the motel manager, and his mother, Vila Dean Jacobsen, say evidence that should have cleared both men was not adequately presented at their trial.
"She couldn't have been tied up the way she said she was," Mrs. Jacobsen said. "It just didn't happen. It couldn't have."
The reason, the Jacobsens say, is the chain-linked cord is not long enough to reach the bed. The only way it could be made long enough to reach the bed was if it was removed from its hook in the plaster ceiling. When police arrived, the cord still hung from the ceiling hook. Weeks worth of dust and grime still covered the cord. There was no evidence of fingerprints in the dust or that the dust had been disturbed in any way.
"I remember looking at the cord and seeing the dust," Mrs. Jacobsen said. "I remember saying to myself it had been a long time since the maid had cleaned it and I needed to talk to her about that."
The Jacobsens don't believe the victim could have been tied with the cord, even if it had been long enough to reach the bed without taking it from the hook. The victim told police she struggled and fought the men.
"It doesn't take any effort at all to pull that hook from a plaster ceiling," she said. However, the hook was still in place, and there were no signs the hook had been pulled on or loosened in anyway.
*** Jeff Jacobsen has a particularly hard time believing a rape occurred. After the young woman checked into her room, Jacobsen decided to keep a close watch on the room to make sure the two men left as promised. He even went so far as to work on a vehicle parked just outside the room.
"Over about a two-hour period I called the room at least five times to tell her to get those men out of there," he said. "Every time there was laughing and giggling, and she'd say, `They're on their way.' "
But the men didn't leave and Jacobsen got angrier. Finally, he called the room and said he was coming up to the room. There was still laughing and giggling in the background. "Don't come up," she pleaded. "They're on their way." Five minutes later - not 30 minutes, as was claimed in the trial - the two men began carrying belongings to their car.
They left the door open behind them.
Sargent and Logan made two or three trips to the car, after which they sat on the back of the car drinking a beer. One of them returned to the motel room, looked inside and said, "Thanks."
According to court testimony, the rape occurred between Jacobsen's final phone call and the time the men began carrying their belongings to the car. The teenager testified during their trial she was raped for about 30 minutes, but Jacobsen says no more than five minutes actually passed.
During the time the rape was supposed to have occurred, Jacobsen was just outside the room waiting for the men to leave. He heard nothing from the room, even when the door was left open.
"She could have called for help any time," he said. "The door was open, and it was open a long time."
If Logan and Sargent had just raped the teenager, why would they leave the motel room door open, offering a full view of a young woman supposedly tied to a bed, the Jacobsens ask. Why would they leave the door open on their crime for several minutes as they made two or three trips to their car?
Why would they take so much time loading their car and sitting around drinking beers before they resumed their trip?
"It's not the behavior of someone who has just committed a violent rape," Keller said. "They were in no hurry at all to leave. If they had done something so seriously wrong, you would think they would have been in a hurry to get out of there. They weren't."
*** "I knew we were in trouble when we were pulled over in Parowan," Logan said. "The first thing they said to us was, `You boys are going to prison.' I thought it was the money I stole from her. When they said rape, I couldn't believe it."
Within 30 days of their arrest, both men had been tried, convicted and sent to prison.
"Those boys were railroaded," said Jacobsen, who still gets angry when he thinks about the incident. "I had a story to tell in court but I couldn't tell it because no one asked me the questions. I wanted to tell my story, but they wouldn't let me."
What Jacobsen was not allowed to testify about was statements made by the victim.
"Let's go up and have a good time," she said to Jacobsen. "My dad's coming tomorrow and he's going to be mad and there's not going to be any more parties for a long, long time."
Jacobsen thought it was a joke when the young woman called his office to say she had been raped. "It was so blatantly obvious what was going on in that room," he said. "She was having the party of her life and it was her party all the way."
The rape story, believes Jacobsen, was concocted to change her father's feelings of anger - anger at his 15-year-old running away from home - to feelings of sympathy for a daughter who had been raped.
"It was nothing more than a ploy to make her dad feel sorry for her," he said.
*** Their trial on the aggravated rape charges was an experience that soured Logan and Sargent on Utah justice.
"They knew they were sending us to prison before we ever walked into that courtroom," Sargent said. "Two or three of the ladies on the jury were knitting on a purple blanket spread out among them and they were just talking away. I felt like standing up and yelling at the them: `This is our lives! Pay attention.' "
Both men appealed their convictions to the Utah Supreme Court but lost.
*** In the Utah State Prison, Logan and Sargent have learned technical skills that should land them decent jobs upon their release from prison. They are optimistic about the future, yet angry over the loss of five years of their lives.
"When I think of the all the things I've lost, I get mad. I still get mad," Logan said. "Then I realize there is nothing I can do about it. It's water under the bridge and I have to get on with my life."
Because of his conviction, Logan has lost a once-promising career in the Navy. He now hopes to return home to Ohio and put his life together.
Sargent feels pretty much the same way. "The first year in prison was the hardest," he said. "I said a lot of bad, nasty things. I had a lot of hatred in my heart. All I want to do now is get on with my life."
Sargent plans to go home to California and start over.
Both men freely admit the impetuosity of youth led them to do things that were wrong. It was unquestionably wrong to steal her money. It was wrong to have gone to a motel room with a strange woman.
But the greatest wrong, the say, is the stain of a rape conviction that both men will carry the rest of their lives.
"Later on in her life, maybe she will want to clear her conscience," Sargent said.
"No way," Logan said. "She's too cold. She never looked at us once during that trial. She knew she was lying."
"Some day she'll pay," Sargent responded. "The man upstairs will see to that. I'll pay for what I have done, but rape isn't one of them."