All four suspects turned themselves in on Sunday and Monday. Lawyers for the suspects argued that their clients did not rape Brooks but had consensual sex. Under Louisiana law, third-degree rape generally involves the victim “incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of the act due to an intoxicated agent or in a coma or state of insanity from any cause, and the perpetrator knew or should have known of the victim’s incapacity” .”
On a January morning. Brooks, 15, a sophomore in Madisonville, Louisiana, was with the 17-year-old girl and three other suspects at the popular entertainment venue in Baton Rouge near the LSU campus, records show. A bar in the Tigerland district was drinking. The East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said surveillance video showed Brooks hanging out with the suspect at the bar and dancing with the teen.
When Brooks asked for a ride home from Reggie’s Bar, Carver told investigators that he or the group did not know Brooks before that night, saying the college student was “very unsteady on his feet,” unable to “keep his balance,” and “You can’t speak clearly without slurring.” Washington also told authorities that Brooks was drunk, saying, “She was drunk.” Representatives later said they were told that Brooks asked for a ride home because she was drunk. Too drunk to find her friends.
Not long after the group left the bar, the car pulled over and stopped. According to authorities, Washington and the teen raped Brooks while Carver and Lee watched from the car. When asked by police if he thought Brooks was too drunk to consent to sex, Carver said, “I guess so,” records show. Carver later told authorities that Brooks “verbally agreed,” and claimed to police, After Washington repeatedly asked for sex in the backseat, Brooks agreed. According to charging documents, Washington denies having a sexual relationship with Brooks.
Carver, who was in the front seat with Lee at the time, eventually told the group, “We have to stop this, let’s go,” records show. According to investigators, Carver said the group dropped Brooks out of his car in one subdivision and drove away.
About 3 a.m., nearly an hour after she got out of the car, Brooks was hit by a ride-sharing vehicle, authorities said. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. The rideshare driver, who identified himself as a paramedic, has not been charged, authorities said.
The autopsy report found that Brooks had a blood alcohol level of 0.319, nearly four times the legal limit for the driver. The autopsy found she tested positive for THC and also noted that Brooks had “injuries consistent with a previous sexual assault.”
Under state law, Washington and the 17-year-old could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of third-degree rape.
Ron Haley, an attorney for Washington and Lee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment earlier Wednesday. Haley told WAFB in Baton Rouge that Brooks was not raped and argued the acts were consensual. Video of the encounter showed Brooks in a coherent state at the time, he added.
“She got into the car voluntarily, said her car had left her, and she got into the car,” Haley told the station. “After that, she had consensual sex with two other people in that car at two different times.” He added, “Can you tell she was drunk, yes. As far as the law In terms of your claim that you were in a drunken stupor so that you could not legally give consent or answer questions, that is absolutely not the case.”
Carver’s attorney, Joe Long, echoed Haley’s sentiments, telling the Advocate that Brooks’ case was “a tragedy, but not a crime.”
“When all the evidence is known, everyone will see that it’s not a crime,” Long said.
Long declined to comment to The Post, but pointed to a New York Post report that recounted Brooks’ occasional work for Reggie. The attorney also shared with the Post a photo of her and two friends that Brooks posted on her social media with the caption “3 of Reggie’s little workers.” It is unclear whether Brooks ever worked at the bar.
Following Brooks’ death, the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control announced the emergency closure of Reggie’s Bar.
“This action immediately suspended the service or sale of alcoholic beverages at the location,” the agency said in a statement, according to WDSU New Orleans. The agency said it was working with law enforcement to investigate the case and the recent incident at the bar. Other incidents, and an emergency meeting will be called next month to determine whether Reggie’s should face any penalties. Messages left at Reggie did not immediately return.
Records Wednesday morning show Carver and Lee have been released. Both had to wear ankle monitors and were placed under house arrest, WBRZ reported. Washington and the 17-year-old remained in jail as of Wednesday, records show. Washington is being held on $150,000 bond while the teen is being held in a juvenile prison awaiting a court hearing.
News of Brooks’ death shocked the LSU community, which has suffered other tragedies in recent years. In 2017, 18-year-old LSU student Max Gruver died of alcohol poisoning after being forced to drink during a fraternity bullying. In 2019, former LSU student Matthew Naquin, then 21, was convicted of manslaughter for his role in Grover’s death. Allison Rice, a 21-year-old senior, was shot in her car in September in what authorities believe was a random attack.
Brooks studied at LSU’s School of Mass Communication and is described by her Alpha Phi sorority sisters as “a vivacious, loving and selfless friend.”
“She is also a hero who was able to donate her heart and kidney to save others,” the sorority wrote on Instagram. “Our deepest sympathies go out to her family and friends at this extremely difficult time.”
In a statement Monday, LSU President William Tate IV remembered Brooks as “a daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece, classmate and friend of many of you.” Tate said the university will meet with local bar owners and “any institution that profits from our students by serving alcohol to minors” to see what can be done to improve safety around LSU.
“In every way, she is an amazing young woman with so much potential. She didn’t deserve to be taken from us in this way,” Tate said. “What happened to her was evil and our legal system will deliver justice.”