Student charged in sexual assault


Helen Lee, Editor-In-Chief

A Linfield junior was arrested Sept. 16 in connection with an alleged sexual assault.

Diego Garza, 20, of Alta Loma, California, was taken into custody by the McMinnville Police Department.

Garza was charged on Sept. 17 with rape, sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration, and sexual abuse, all in the first degree according to a court document.

After the arrest, Garza was lodged at the Yamhill County Correctional Facility. Bail was set at $250,000, according to Deputy District Attorney Alicia Eagan. He was released on bond on Sept. 18 after posting $25,000, according to a court document.

The alleged crimes occurred at 2 a.m. on Sept. 13 in Garza’s room in HP Apartment Building E 104, according to the police’s probable cause statement. The victim went to Willamette Valley Medical Center later that morning, but told the nurse who examined her that she “did not want to report the incident to the police at this time,” according to the statement.

However, on Sept. 15, the victim went to Henderson House and told a counselor there that she wanted to speak to the police.

She “described a series of events that included Garza holding her against her will within his bedroom by picking up the victim and throwing her onto a bed,” the statement said.

As a result of the trauma from the attack, the victim told police that she had “difficulties controlling bowel movements and urinating” and was in pain for 48 hours, the statement said.

After the victim talked to police, she called Garza, who told the victim he was drunk at the time of the assault, according to the statement.

In cases of sexual assault, the Linfield Review does not give name(s) of victims.

Garza’s preliminary hearing is set for Sept. 24.

Garza could not be reached for comment. His defense attorney, Mary Beil, did not return a phone call request for comment.

Linfield’s Campus Public Safety office was informed prior to the arrest.

“The college cooperates fully in any investigation by any law enforcement agency. In addition to any investigation by an outside law enforcement agency, Linfield conducts its own internal investigation,” Mardi Mileham, director of communications for Linfield, wrote in an email.

Garza is suspended from Linfield until both college conduct proceedings and the criminal case are resolved, according to Mileham.

The college sexual misconduct policy “establishes a higher standard of conduct for members of the Linfield community than applied to the public at large,” she wrote.

“The definition of sexual misconduct at Linfield does not stop at actions prohibited by law. It also includes unwanted kissing, unwanted touching, or unwanted sexual contact,” she wrote.

Linfield has resources to try to prevent and address cases of sexual misconduct, including training programs such as the Consent Awareness Training Squad, anonymous Misconduct Report Forms, and a Sexual Misconduct Response Team.

Additionally, “All new students must participate in an educational program in compliance with the standards set forth in Title IX and Campus SaVE Acts, combining sexual assault and substance abuse prevention in a comprehensive online training program,” Mileham wrote.

“Our goal is to protect students and to ensure a safe and livable environment for students,” Ron Noble, director of College Public Safety, said.

The police investigation is ongoing.

Helen Lee can be reached at [email protected]