A Fresno man who once played the role of Fresno State mascot TimeOut was taken to jail Friday after being found guilty of two misdemeanor charges of sexual battery against two women in connection with a crime spree that shocked the university campus last year.
A criminal complaint initially charged Deandre JeanPierre, 23, with five counts of sexual battery against five women. In his Fresno County Superior Court trial, he faced four charges after the prosecution dismissed the fifth Wednesday, court records say.
The jury found him guilty of two counts, not guilty on one count and were undecided on a fourth. He faces up to a year in jail on each guilty verdict and could be required to register as a sex offender.
JeanPierre was free on $1,000 bail. But after the verdict, Judge John Vogt ordered JeanPierre to be handcuffed and taken to jail until his sentencing Sept. 13. Because the jury was deadlocked on one count, the prosecution dismissed the charge.
JeanPierre, a Fresno High graduate, was studying communications and theater arts at Fresno State when he was arrested in December last year. He was one of four students who performed the role of TimeOut, a mascot who attends athletic events and university promotions.
During the trial, prosecutor David Zimmerman accused JeanPierre, who also goes by Jean-Pierre, of sneaking up behind the victims at night and grabbing their breasts or buttocks.
“He molested them and violated them,” Zimmerman told the jury.
Police say the five women were groped over a three-month period at apartment complexes near the Fresno State campus, from Oct. 23 to Dec. 1 last year.
Defense lawyer Franz Criego said JeanPierre was the victim of mistaken identity and an overzealous prosecutor.
He told the jury many of the victims initially were unable to identify JeanPierre as their attacker. He said the victims’ descriptions of clothing and the attacker’s build did not match JeanPierre.
To help the victims, Franz said, police detectives showed them a “suggestive” photo lineup that highlighted JeanPierre as the culprit.