CSU rape suspect in court, attorney speaks out

The restaurant owner accused of raping a Columbus State student appeared in Recorder’s Court Wednesday morning around 9 a.m. Police believe 50-year-old Larry Kirkland dropped an illegal substance into the alleged rape victim’s drink, then took her back to her dorm. 

Kirkland is the owner of Picasso Pizza, where the rape victim works, and the general manager of Uptown Tap, also implicated in the evening that culminated in the alleged assault.

Police say video surveillance shows Kirkland and the victim heading back to her dorm. The 22-year-old was in an intoxicated state, footage shows. Sergeant Brett Stanelle says there were three critical views showing Kirkland and the victim entering her dorm room and walking out hours later. 

The victim claims she had two shots of alcohol, reported to be Irish Car Bombs, before heading back to her place Thursday night. However, she does not remember much after that. She awoke naked in her dorm room the next morning, wondering what happened. She had bruises, and she claims her shirt had been ripped from the neck. Police say Kirkland had a bite mark that confirms the victim’s testimony.

She alerted police from Midtown Medical Center, where she received treatment from a sexual assault nurse.

CSU Police say the ongoing investigation’s next steps involve getting back toxicology reports. The reports could possibly link Kirkland to spiking the victim’s drink with the “date rape” drug and or sexually assaulting her. 

Kirkland’s lawyer states that police acted aggressively and improperly arrested him for evidence that is not yet found. Attorney Stacey Jackson says authorities’ details about the preparation of the drinks and where the two were actually drinking are factually incorrect according to surveillance footage at the restaurant. Jackson also is in favor of awaiting toxicology and blood work results before rushing to judgement. Investigators must process cell phone history of both Kirkland and the victim as well.

Though the victim did not have to testify during the preliminary hearing, Jackson said it was important to attend to learn the progress of CSU Police’s investigation.

CSU Police Chief Rus Drew says his team, along with Columbus Police and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, are doing a thorough job. They made sure the victim received proper assistance in dealing with the traumatizing event.

CSU spokesman John Lester says if you feel threatened, call police immediately and get an escort to help prevent sexual assaults from happening.

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