Oregon jury convicts M-A grad in rape case Menlo Park, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on May 27, 2009 at 7:38 pm
Gregory Sako, a graduate of Hillview Middle School and Menlo-Atherton High School, was sentenced Tuesday, May 19, in Benton County, Oregon, to eight years and four months in state prison after a jury trial in which he was convicted of first-degree rape, according to the prosecutor in the case.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 12:00 AM
Posted by Elle Chan, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on May 27, 2009 at 7:38 pm
We've known Gregory Sako since he was seven years old and we were lucky enough to become the Sako's neighbors. For years Greg has been knocking on our door so ask my husband to play street hockey with him and we've watched him grow into a fine young man. We were proud of each of his accomplishments in school and sports and know first-hand the kindness in his heart. The accusations and events of the Fall had us in shock and disbelief. We know Gregory well enough to know the accusations and charges are outrageous. Many of us have to admit that we've all had too many drinks before - but it does not turn us into violent criminals - and Gregory is certainly not a violent and harmful person. This is too harsh and unfair a verdict for a lapse in judgement and a few too many drinks. I question the judicial process and challenge those involved with the trial to think critically if this trial was fair.
Posted by Friend of sako family, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on May 27, 2009 at 8:15 pm
Is there a legal defense fund for Greg Sako? Linda's enormous contributions to our kids certainly warrants a fight from us. This is tragic beyond belief. If there is a defense fund I'll gladly spend to fight those fine jurors from Oregon
Posted by Neighbor, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on May 28, 2009 at 10:22 am
Oregon's measure 11 is really harsh. There is no telling what really happened in that room -- especially with both parties intoxicated. But a first offense under acoholic influences should not mean 8+ years in prison with out possibility of parole or early realease. While people should pay for their crimes, whether they remember them or not, treating a young man who has contributed much to this community (see Almanac archieves as to his achievements) the same as a repeat offender makes no sense. That sort of sentance could turn a gentle soul into a violent and harmful person. And what a waster --- instead of college, he'll be serving time. And how will he then contribute to the community?
It is too bad that this article only quoted the prosecution's case. A quick search of the Oregon papers on the web will show you the whole picture -- including negative rape kit; conflicting testimony; some small blood spatters (not "bload soaked") that could have come from a fingernail scratch; the many people who came and went into the room during the alleged incident. Also that the verdict wasnot unanimous. Comments from the jurors and quotes from the judge also note that Mr. Sako is not a monster. Please don't judge anyone by the prosecution's picture.
Posted by Lee Kite, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on May 28, 2009 at 10:31 am
We, too, are neighbors of the Sakos and have known Greg all his life. I was more than happy to write a character reference for him in this matter.
Greg made a mistake and drank too much. This is a horrible outcome for that mistake. And given the testimony (check out the Corvallis Gazette on the web), there certainly is plenty of room for reasonable doubt. How the jury came back with the conviction is beyond me. Greg is nothing but kind, gentle, polite and respectful. He has always made the best of situations and I trust that this experience will somehow make him an even better person.
But I'd really like someone to ask the jury how they excused all the inconsistancy in testimony.
Posted by Nonni, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on May 28, 2009 at 10:50 am
I have known Gregory since the day he was born. He is my family. His mother, father and brother are a wonderful, loving and supportive family.
RAPE?? No penile penatration? Non of Greg"s dna or semen present? How can you convict this man for 100 monthes, 11 years probation and registered sex offender? Please, who were these people? Were they not listening to all the evidence? It is beyond my understanding of how such a harsh penilty could happen with such circumstantial evidence. This man has had his life taken away from him. Such a travesty of justice has occured.
We love you Greg and we support you all the way and we will fight this to the end.
Posted by Amy Heinz, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on May 28, 2009 at 2:52 pm
I, too, am a firm believer in Greg's innocence. Not only because I know he is a hard-working, intelligent, kind boy. But because I have read balanced articles and heard details of the evidence (or lack there of) from people who were at the trial. I pray that justice is eventually served because it certainly wasn't the day Greg was convicted.
My heart goes out to Greg, his family and his friends who are making the best of a horrific situation.
Posted by Lisa G, a resident of the Woodside: Emerald Hills neighborhood, on May 28, 2009 at 11:42 pm
In the 3+ years that I have known Greg, even before we were good friends, he has not once shown me any disrespect. I have never seen him act violently or go into any sort of rage, especially towards a female. His circle of friends know him as a gentle giant and even lovingly call him "our big teddy bear." He is the most genuinely considerate, loyal, and supportive person I know, and that is the absolute truth.
He is a really great guy, which is why all who know him are so shocked by his conviction and so convinced of his innocence.
My love to Greg and his family. I am so sorry you have to endure this, but know we will always support you.
Posted by Sarah H, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on May 29, 2009 at 1:54 pm
Greg is one of the few people who have been present in my life the longest, since our pre-school days, and one of the few people I view as entirely genuine. He and his family are exceptional members of the community and society in general-the jury has taken well-earned and much deserved freedom from Greg and his family and his conviction is wrong, I believe in Greg's innocence and my family and I will continue to support Greg and his family through this horrific injustice.
Posted by Pam Von Wiegand, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on May 30, 2009 at 6:33 am
There are two very tragic things happening to Greg during this time. The first is the mistake in judgement of young people that led to this heartbreaking outcome and unbelievably harsh sentence. The second is the way our local papers are treating the news. Greg was arrested on November 1 of last year. The story was printed in our local papers during Thanksgiving break as students returned to town. This seemed timed for maximum negative impact on Greg and the Sako family. Again as you read this article about "blood soaked clothing", the story seems to be presented to paint Greg in the worst possible light - as a violent young man. He is not. The Almanac owes Greg, the Sako family and its readers a much less prejudicial story.
Posted by Marielle and Gianna Giancarlo, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on May 30, 2009 at 2:42 pm
This is a clear example of terrible and biased reporting. Mr. Boyce has obviously written this article only for the Almanac readers who are interested in reading about gossip, smut, and the "monster who lived next door".
Had Mr. Boyce attended the trial, interviewed all involved parties, or even did a quick internet search for the Oregon paper reports of the trial, he would have found a much more complex and heart wrenching story-- about one of the sweetest, most hardworking and good humored man in our area who found himself the victim of false allegations, biased testimonies, and a failed judicial system. Measure 11 and other bizarre Oregon laws are largely to blame for Greg's outrageous sentence. It is a shame that Mr. Boyce chose not to be a responsible and upstanding reporter and instead chose to write a lazy article based entirely on rumors and hear-say. (...Not to mention the fact that as part of the Almanac, he in no way is attempting to stand up for one of our own M-A graduates and one of our well-respected Menlo Park families.)
We have the fullest confidence that all of Greg's family, friends, and communities will stand up together and fight against this heinous and unfair sentence. Greg's good character will shine through despite these terrible circumstances and we will all be there for him as long as it takes.
Posted by More Info Needed, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on May 30, 2009 at 4:41 pm
There was a previous post referring to more extensive coverage in the Oregon newspapers. I was interested to see if, in fact, there was more information that might help explain this sad situation.I found some info, but not the description of the heart-wrenching story described in the post above. If you can, post some links to stories that show this in a different light.I did find one post on the Corvallis newspaper's website from someone who knows Greg from college and the poster said that Greg was known to change his personality, especially as it relates to his treatment of women, when he had been drinking. Not my opinion, this is just what I read. I also see that he was offered a plea bargain and apparently turned it down. I definitely agree that 100 months seems extremely harsh for a first offense, but if he was offered the change to plea to a lesser charge and took his chances with the jury, that's the way it goes. Not sure that the 'I don't remember' defense in the face of the physical evidence was the best way to go.
Still and all, this case has been really bothering me. I think it is extremely sad that such a good kid would end up like this.
Posted by linda sue, a resident of the Woodside: other neighborhood, on May 30, 2009 at 5:17 pm
Based on what I heard of the evidence presented at Greg's trial, as well as the articles I have read on the case, I cannot understand how a jury could arrive at the verdict they did. I am baffled. My daughters have been friends with Greg for 3+ years now and have spent countless hours with him at his home, with their friends and his family. Likewise at our home. He is a gentle, thoughtful man of character and integrity. This is a travesty of justice, and Measure 11 in the state of Oregon leaves no leeway with the judge. A double travesty.
Posted by BJW - HSU Alumni, a resident of another community, on Jun 1, 2009 at 6:20 pm
I have known Greg's parents for more than thirty years, which means I knew Greg when he was on his way into this world. His parents have always been solid citizens. Their value system is to be admired. I have watched Greg grow up in a loving, stable, healthy American household. Something is very wrong with the justice system in the United States. The jury and the court system in Oregon seems to have ingnored the facts and sent a GOOD YOUNG MAN to prison, with a far harsher penalty than the facts of the case warrant. While the family appeals this travesty, I will continue to PRAY GREG IS RELEASED SOON. I will help in every way I can to see justice prevail. From my perspective justice has not shown up so far in this case.
Greg - If you are able to read this know you are loved and many who care about you are working to correct this misapplication of the law. Remember you do not belong where you are and you are NOT part of the group in which you find yourself. Stay strong mentally and physically while WE get you out. Hang in there. You will have your freedom again. God Bless You. Your Friend. Megaptera.
Posted by KHRW, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2009 at 2:43 pm
Look.. I think this a very simple case of DNA. We have all seen the information presented on TV. Now it has come home to our City. We all have to deal with it..... Right or Wrong.... It is What It Is. If the court rules to review the conviction so be it. We can all praise our felings, bottom line is he is now going to spend 8 years and a few months in prison. The I don't remember what took place is a very poor defence. We don't know what took place between the 31st and his arreast on Nov 3rd. Maybe if we could read the court records we would have a better understanding of the case and conviction. On the other hand the woman that was raped, the victum. What about her rights?? She now has a life to live. Can she put her live back together??? Any crime toward women is not right, period. Rape is no exception.....
Posted by More Info Needed, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2009 at 2:46 pm
Again, please post links or quotes from any newspaper articles that several posters such as these:
Based on what I heard of the evidence presented at Greg's trial, as well as the articles I have read on the case, I cannot understand how a jury could arrive at the verdict they did. (linda sue)
Had Mr. Boyce attended the trial, interviewed all involved parties, or even did a quick internet search for the Oregon paper reports of the trial, he would have found a much more complex and heart wrenching story (Marielle and Gianna)
are quoting that may tell a different story. I am not finding such contrary information when I search.
Posted by Rocco, a resident of another community, on Jun 4, 2009 at 11:04 am
The woman lied, repeatedly. The jury believed her, but that doesn't make it true. She deserves no compassion. She was not raped. She engaged in (minor) consentual sexual activty. The was no penal penetration proven. She got worried when she realized she could not explain the result of her consentual act to her friends, and more importantly to her Father. She therefore began a series of lies that led to the incarceration of an innocent young man. Review the facts, as I have, and you'll realize how ignorant your comment is.
Posted by just curious, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2009 at 11:36 am
Rocco, none of this has been reported in the newspapers. Did Nick have poor representation? Seems as though there should have been enough reasonable doubt to dissuade the jurors from convicting, especially knowing that the sentence is so severe.
Linda Sako has been a wonderful asset to our community, but I don't think that means we should automatically assume that her son is completely innocent of any wrongdoing.
Posted by Rocco, a resident of another community, on Jun 4, 2009 at 11:53 am
I can't comment on GREG'S representation. You're right, there clearly was plenty of reasonable doubt presented to the jury. They apparently listened only to the woman's testimony. Other procecution witnesses' testimony was undermined. The sentence is not part of the jury instructions, and other than being residents of this state with severe (measure 11) sentencing requirements, they may not be aware of these requirements. So, conceivably, the jury didn't even consider the penal phase in their decision to convict.
Posted by just curious, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2009 at 3:27 pm
Sorry, can't keep my own kids' names straight.
Maybe the judge didn't remind the jury of the sentence, but the defense attorney should have. The defense is allowed to call witnesses on its behalf; why weren't those people called to testify?
I don't buy the story about the woman's father because I can't think that there are many fathers of college students who check their daughter's underwear. Sounds like a convenient way to shift blame.
Note that in the Burpee case in Palo Alto, the newspaper gave a blow-by-blow account of the court proceedings. Too much information, actually. But there is nothing at all like that in this case, and the information that is available makes this look very much like serious crime, albeit with a ridiculous sentence.
Posted by rocco, a resident of another community, on Jun 4, 2009 at 3:50 pm
Buy what ever you want. I wrote the truth. Review the details futher. We are not discussing just her underwear. If you had more information you'd understand that her relationship with her Father was most certainly a factor in her lies. And I personally don't know a Father who doesn't place his Daughter honor above all else, except (maybe) that of his wife's.
This case was tried in Oregon where the rules are different than here. Also, the judge does not instruct the jury on items that aren't of their concern. The judge sentenced Greg, per strict Oregon guidelines. He had no flexibility and the jury had no part in the sentence.
Yes, the defense presented a case, but as I previously wrote, the jury apparently did not value the defense's argument.
As far as the coverage, Corvalis is maybe 20,000 people, isolated in Northern Oregon. What is PA and the greater bay area population. The local coverage above has been minimal, late and is one sided (have you read the other posts, that is the main complaint), let alone the Corvalis coverage.
Posted by just curious, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2009 at 4:19 pm
I (like many people in Menlo Park) know the family, so I did a google search and couldn't find anything that wasn't reported in the Almanac. Kind of odd, if Corvallis is such a tiny, isolated community -- you'd think a trial of this nature would be big news.
Is that comment about "honor" a joke? Sounds like something out of the 1950s. Most parents with girls that age assume our daughters are having sex and it's really none of our business. If a father asked a daughter about it, she'd be within her rights to tell him that he's invading her privacy.
I understand that the *judge* does not instruct the jury on sentencing. That is why I specifically suggested that the defense attorney should have done so. Sounds as though the defense attorney either did a wretched job...or that there was nothing to defend.
Posted by rocco, a resident of another community, on Jun 4, 2009 at 5:55 pm
You continue to demonstate your obvious bias and ignorance. This,to me, is totally inconsistent with your professed concern for the Sako family. Its clear that you have made up your mind that Greg is guilty. Certainly don't try to find out any more facts if its not easy (or if they are contrary to your belief).
Why not just be honest, and quit hiding behind that shallow confession of support and respect for his family.
And maybe you don't care about your Daughter having sex before marriage, (and I'm sure you won't believe this) but many families in this nation do still (even in 2009) have morals. Maybe you should get a more honest answer from your husband, as to his feeling on the matter.
Come to think of it, you qualify to be an Oregon juror.
Posted by just curious, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2009 at 1:49 pm
Instead of name-calling, why don't you tell us the facts, rocco, since they are apparently not available online?
I think we can all feel compassion for the family whether or not their son is guilty. The story in the Almanac suggests that even Greg doesn't know whether he committed the crime or not. Doesn't look good for him, but his lack of innocence shouldn't mean that the community should desert the family. They need support even more.
How do you know I have a husband, by the way? Maybe I'm a man! Your views on premarital sex are from a different place and time. Remember that parents of today's college students grew up in the 60s and 70s and most don't buy that holy roller mindset. Sex has nothing to do with morality, though immoral people often use sex in violent or manipulative ways. That's why there are laws against rape but no laws against premarital sex!
Posted by rocco, a resident of another community, on Jun 5, 2009 at 7:46 pm
There it is. Now your clarifying the basis of your personal bias. Must be tough living around all these dinosaur religious extremists for you, such an enlightened one.
'Sex has nothing to do with morality'!!??? Do you really tell your children that? That's the kind of parenting that leads to a character that can justify telling lies that incarcerate an innocent person.
I know Greg is innocent. Greg is trustworthy. Not all young people are. Some don't learn how to be honest.
You want more infomation, request a copy of the trial transcript. It's public record.
Posted by Shelli, a resident of another community, on Jun 5, 2009 at 10:40 pm
Rocco you apparently were not at the trial since you refer to the judge as a "he" when it was a "she". Also, there was no evidence that I remember about anybody's family (father or otherwise) other than the defense attorney trying to argue that because Greg came from a good family that means he could not have done the crime. This silly argument seems to be the same reason that people commenting on this site believe Greg can't be guilty.
The evidence showed that Greg told the police several stories before settling on the blackout story. If you were in the courtroom and looked when the exhibits were being moved around you could see a good amount of blood on the victim's dress. A scientist testified about the victim's blood inside of Greg's underwear. There was never a defense made that it was just non-consensual sex. Greg did not even try to explain his actions. The victim had just met Greg that night so there was no motive to make up a story. There was testimony of vaginal trauma.
If you actually watched the trial and heard the victim testify as to what Greg did to her, all of you who hope that Greg can get away consequence free for raping a young woman would be embarassed that you are coming to his defense based solely on your gut that he's a good kid. Even a good kid can do something horrible. Like it or not, Greg did.
Posted by Rocco, a resident of another community, on Jun 6, 2009 at 8:39 am
Good presentation of the procecutions case. Your bias, too, is showing. Of course you missed all the defense arguments that highlighted the inconsistencies in the woman's various statements. (That point about Greg holding her down, was first mentioned in her testimony although she was interviewed by police four times before and never mentioned it. Also, she never mentioned the prolonged kissing the two engaged in both on the dance floor and in Greg's room until her testimony and when asked why stated she didn't think it relevant. If she was being raped, how is it she could not explain the multiple individuals that both entered the room and came to the window to speak with Greg. She interacted with some of them, but when asked why she didn't flee or ask for help, she simply cried and ask for a break from testimony. Nor did you you note the three witnesses who spoke to both individuals for five minutes outside the door of his room after the two exited and described her as calm and without distress. And again, no mention of rape, ask for help, or in her testimony a resonable explaination as to why. Sounds alot like buyer's remorse to me.) Which part of the trial did you attend? Were you on the jury? It sounds like you are bought the lets convict this out-of-state California frat boy. (Protect your own, at all costs, huh?) Most Californians easily recognize the hatred Oregonians have for them the minute you open your mouths. No its you (and her) that should be embarassed. Greg is innocent, based on the facts ignored by the jury, not by any gut feelings.
Posted by Shelli, a resident of another community, on Jun 6, 2009 at 12:19 pm
There was never any evidence about multiple people coming into the room with the victim. Greg brought 3 other woman to his room that night- who everyone agrees he fooled around with. (one whose wrist he too grabbed like the rape victim). One of these woman was dressed just like the victim and nobody could id which woman Greg was with when they came into the room. The victim said one person came into the room BEFORE the rape. The witnesses who saw the victim come out of Greg's room contradicted each other and one admitted that he was freaked out when he saw blood on Greg's underwear and thought something happened but took Greg's word for it that nothing happened.
An inconstiency means you say one thing one time and then another thing a second time (like Greg's interview with the police). What the victim did was remember more details later and there were experts who explained why that happens with sex abuse. The victim never said there was no kissing or that Greg did not hold her down. Whenever the victim testified consistent with other witnesses the defense said she was adjusting her testimony. Whenever the victim testified differently then she was portrayed as being a liar.
I agree that if an unbiased person- found the victim not to be credible then there would be reasonable doubt. But an unbiased jury picked by both the DA and the Defense found her to be credible. Hopefully more women will come forward with the courage to confront their attackers whether for a future event or for something that happened in high school as most states have an extended statute of limitations for rape.
Posted by just curious, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2009 at 2:13 pm
From what both Shelli and rocco have said, sounds as though the jury made the correct decision. The sentence seems way too long but perhaps there is a way to challenge the judge's ruling and to shorten it.
Most people understand that a rape charge is serious. The woman had no other reason to bring the charge (ie, if they had been boyfriend/girlfriend and had undergone a difficult breakup, then maybe you could argue that she was seeking revenge). It must be inordinately difficult for a victim of rape to have to relive the crime in court. If you read the account of the Burpee trial -- in that case, the girl could not even bear to look at her attacker -- you cannot help but note both her bravery and her pain.
>>>when asked why she didn't flee or ask for help, she simply cried and ask for a break from testimony. <<<
Nothing like blaming the victim! Thirty years ago, you would not have seen a trial like this because the consensus would have been that "she must have been asking for it." I would guess that the woman is deeply regretful of not leaving when she could, just as Greg is (we hope) regretting his part in this tragedy. Have you never made a mistake and then chided yourself afterward for not handling the situation better? Don't confuse feelings of inadequacy with guilt.
Note that on the Burpee thread, on the Palo Alto counterpart to this forum, people were complaining that Burpee should have been given a life sentence. The main difference between these two cases is that Greg is from a respectable middle class family whereas Burpee comes from poverty.
I feel very sad for Greg's family. This crime is not their fault either, though they are probably feeling judged as well.
Posted by Rob, a resident of another community, on Nov 2, 2009 at 2:08 pm
"If they... bother with what (you) do. Then (you are)... better than them."???
What is that position all about? Is this case in any way about being 'better than' someone? I think you have a real problem with right and wrong, and you are certainly not 'better' than I am because I'm bothered by what you say.
No one should be able to do or say anything that is not the truth, if it leads to an innocent person being incarcerated.
Posted by sam, a resident of another community, on Nov 11, 2009 at 8:02 pm
Most of the time girls lie to there parents and friends to save face and then they are stuck with it. Once they have cried rape they can't take it back and will feverishly cling to it to save their own name and reputation. I find this highly outrageous as an innocent man's life is at stake. His life is completely ruined by this verdict. And the girl might be enjoying her life and liberties and even having a cruel smirk as to how she made a fool of the entire justice system.
I don't condone the rapists or anyone who violates any human being. But when the system is abused and innocent people end up behind the bars it a travesty of justice.Anyone should be fairly certain of the crime commited based on the evidence provided before rendering a verdict of guilty , as it completely devastates ,ruins and jeopradises a young man's life.I wish that he comes out of this orderal stronger but it would be almost impossible to regain his previous life after this entire incident.