Prosecutors move to dismiss charges against former assistant Notre Dame basketball coach Ryan Ayers
SOUTH BEND — Prosecutors on Monday moved to dismiss all remaining criminal charges against former Notre Dame assistant men’s basketball coach Ryan Ayers days before the case was set to go to trial.
In court filings, prosecutors say a woman accusing Ayers of taking nude photographs of her without her consent will not testify in front of St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Sanford because she feels “disrespected, demeaned, and degraded” by comments Sanford made about the case.
Sanford granted the motion Monday afternoon, meaning Ayers is no longer facing any criminal charges.
"Ryan is extremely pleased that this nightmare is now behind him," a statement provided by Ayers attorney read. "He has maintained his innocence throughout and is pleased that the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office has finally dropped its charges against him. While the last year has been painful for Ryan as he fought to clear his name, he is gratified to have been vindicated and he looks forward to rebuilding his life."
The state’s motion to dismiss comes after prosecutors twice asked Sanford to recuse himself from the case for allegedly making inappropriate comments about the accuser and photographic evidence in the case. The accuser also filed a judicial complaint against Sanford.
Following a hearing on Oct. 11, Sanford “appeared to suggest [he] was looking forward to seeing ‘pornographic’ photos of the victim,” court documents filed by prosecutors say.
In a heated exchange with prosecutors at an Oct. 20 hearing, Sanford denied he acted inappropriately, though he did apologize for asking when the accuser was going to “get her head out of her backside and cooperate” with efforts to gather evidence.
Ayers has argued that he and the woman were a couple and that taking surreptitious nude photos of each other was permitted in the relationship.
Sanford has not recused himself and prosecutors filed the motion to dismiss Monday, two days before a trial on the matter was scheduled, saying the accuser will not testify.
The motion marks the second time that a woman accusing Ayers of voyeurism has declined to be involved in the proceedings.
“The State of Indiana believes it would be demeaning and degrading for this witness to have to testify before this Judge as to photos and videos of a highly personal nature … with the thought in the back of her mind that this Judge has previously objectified her,” the motion says.
Ayers is longer facing criminal action after being charged with three counts of voyeurism, one count of domestic battery and one count of conversion in January.
Since then, prosecutors have dropped two of the voyeurism charges as a separate woman accusing Ayers declined to be involved in the case.
Ayers’ attorneys had previously attempted to have the accuser removed from the case and be held in contempt of court for making a recording of court proceedings, which is forbidden by Indiana court rules.
Timothy DeLaney, an Indianapolis-based attorney representing Ayers, said the woman was “off the rails” at the Oct. 20 hearing and has opposed prosecutors’ attempts to have Sanford recused from the case.
Email Marek Mazurek at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @marek_mazurek