BOISE — A judge has dismissed a charge of felony rape against a Boise police officer at the request of prosecutors, who felt they needed more time to present evidence to the court. However, the officer remains the subject of investigation.
Ada County prosecutors charged Eric Simunich, 43, on Oct. 16, according to the Idaho Supreme Court’s online repository, and the dismissal came on Thursday, a day after Twin Falls County prosecutors, who took the case after Ada County cited a conflict of interest, filed the motion to dismiss.
At an Oct. 17 video arraignment, Ada County deputy prosecutor John Dinger said the rape charge stems from the night of Oct. 13, when Simunich went to dinner with a woman he’d met online the night before. After dinner they returned to her home and began watching a movie. While there was what Dinger referred to as “consensual kissing,” the woman told police Simunich later forced himself on her. He left bruises on her body, later noted by police, and tore her fingernail during the ensuing struggle. Dinger said Simunich also threw her phone out of her grasp and held her down. The woman reported the incident to police the next day, Dinger said, and underwent a sexual assault exam. A judge set Simunich’s bond at $250,000.
The case was set to go to a preliminary hearing Friday, during which a judge would have determined if there was enough evidence to move forward. In the interim, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office asked the Twin Falls Prosecutor’s Office to handle the case, citing a conflict of interest in prosecuting Simunich, a 19-year veteran of the Boise Police Department.
Twin Falls Prosecutor Grant Loebs told the Idaho Press Thursday evening prosecutors did not feel they had enough evidence to present the case at Friday’s scheduled hearing.
“We filed that motion because we weren’t ready to put the case on Friday,” Loebs said.
The judge dismissed the case without prejudice — which means prosecutors can file the charge again if they choose to do so.
“When there’s enough evidence to go forward, we’ll refile it,” Loebs said.
Loebs said any number of reasons might require a case be dismissed and then refiled. He said the office had not been required to dismiss the case.
Asked why prosecutors didn’t ask to move the court date, Loebs said they would’ve then had to choose a specific date, and he wasn’t sure if the case would be ready by that date. Additionally, in order to move a preliminary hearing, both sides have to agree.
Ada County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Patrick Orr confirmed the office is still investigating Simunich, and Loebs said his office is still working with deputies.
Scott McKay, Simunich’s defense attorney, said he was pleased with the dismissal.
“Eric Simunich is innocent,” he said. “He didn’t commit any crime. … We are pleased that an experienced prosecutor has looked at this case and chosen to dismiss this case. That was the responsible thing to do.”
Simunich had been placed on paid administrative leave by the Boise Police Department. A department spokesperson could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.