WARNING: This report contains graphic details that may be upsetting to some
A former Minneapolis Public Schools employee is facing the prospect of more than fifteen years in prison after a Hennepin County jury last week found him guilty of sexual assault, and possibly even more prison time if found guilty on two more sexual assault charges from a different sexual assault case in Anoka County.
Melvin DeVaughn Epps, 36, who Minneapolis Public Schools confirmed was employed by the district from August 2014 until March 2017, was found guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for forcibly sexually assaulting a woman following a party in the early morning hours before the Super Bowl would be played in Minneapolis on February 4, 2018. Epps is also facing two more felony counts of criminal sexual conduct for an incident that allegedly took place in Anoka County just twelve days later.
The Hennepin County charging document, issued in January 2019, nearly a year after the incident, said that Epps met a woman at the coat check as they were leaving the exclusive Maxim Super Bowl Party in the North Loop area of downtown Minneapolis, according to a report.
Epps offered to drive the woman back to her hotel so she wouldn’t have to wait in the cold, and she accepted, and he started driving to the wrong hotel in Brooklyn Center instead of the one she was staying at in Bloomington. When they realized it was the wrong one, he drove toward Bloomington but stopped at a different hotel in Richfield about 6 a.m. the report said.
The woman, who said she wasn’t attracted to Epps and had no romantic interest in him, did agree “out of respect” to give him a kiss when he asked, but told police at that point there was no indication from Epps that he wanted anything sexual.
Epps then began touching her and climbed over the center console and raped her despite her repeatedly screaming “no.” When the assault stopped, she ran from the car and told the hotel staff she’d been sexually assaulted. She took a cab to the hotel she was staying at and called police from there, the report said.
A subsequent DNA test matched fluids taken during a sexual assault exam of the victim to Epps, and he eventually admitted to driving the victim to the hotel and said they had consensual sex, after he’d first denied to investigators having met the woman or having sex with anyone.
According to court records, the trial began on March 23 and the jury returned the guilty verdict on May 31. Epps’ sentencing in the Hennepin County case is scheduled for July 12. A spokesperson for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said that prosecutors will be asking for 187 months, the maximum sentence allowed under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines sex offender grid.
Another criminal complaint that was filed in Anoka County in October 2018, says that just twelve days after the Hennepin County assault, Epps anally raped a Lino Lakes woman on February 16, 2018.
The complaint states that Epps and the victim in that case previously had a sexual relationship and had agreed on that date to have vaginal intercourse at her residence in Lino Lakes. They began having consensual vaginal intercourse when Epps penetrated the victim anally. She told him to stop and that it hurt, but he continued penetrating her. The complaint says he eventually stopped and then left the victim’s residence without saying anything. The victim went to the hospital the next day and had a sexual assault exam performed that revealed injuries consistent with a sexual assault of that nature.
The victim also showed police a prior text message in which Epps had asked if she would engage in anal sex with him, and she had said no.
Epps is charged in that case with one felony count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving force or coercion, and one felony count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving force or coercion. Epps is scheduled to appear in Anoka County court on June 17 for an omnibus hearing in that case.
Epps LinkedIn page claims that he’s still employed with Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), but when we reached out to the human resources (HR) department at MPS, they confirmed that he “separated” from the district in March 2017. A reason for the separation was not given.
The MPS HR department also confirmed what is stated on Epps’ LinkedIn page, that he held the positions of Special Education Assistant at Northeast Middle School from August 2014 to March 2015 in northeast Minneapolis, and the position of behavior specialist from March 2015 until separation in March 2017 at Patrick Henry high school in north Minneapolis.
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