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Judge denies motion to suppress much of the evidence in downtown Athens bar rape case

David Ellis Ippisch

By Joe Johnson

A judge has denied a motion to suppress much of the evidence gathered in the investigation of a man who is accused of raping a woman last year in one of two bars he formerly owned in downtown Athens.

David Ellis Ippisch, 39, was indicted in February by a Clarke County grand jury for rape and kidnapping in the alleged assault of the 21-year-old victim, who is identified in court records as K.P.

According to Athens-Clarke County police and court records, K.P. claimed she was raped on Nov. 24, 2019 at The Hedges on Broad, one of two bars Ippisch owned on East Broad Street, near the University of Georgia that were popular student hangouts. He also owned the 100 Proof bar.

Both bars went out of business after Ippisch was evicted, according to court records.

According to court documents, K.P. alleged that she and Ippisch were dancing on the stage at Hedges and “At some point, she found herself positioned on a bar stool, unable to move, in an area behind the stage.

“At that time (Ippisch) allegedly proceeded to have sexual intercourse with her,” according to court documents.

The purported victim said there were large gaps in her memory from the incident which, she explained, “was unusual given the amount of alcohol she consumed.

According to court documents, the woman had a blood-alcohol concentration of at least .09 percent.

A detective suggested that the victim might have been drugged prior to the assault. Ippisch’s defense attorneys claimed that the sex was consensual.

K.P. reported the alleged rape later on the day she said it occurred.

The following day, police executed a search warrant at Hedges, seizing surveillance video equipment, and also arresting Ippisch.

Police also obtained a warrant to search Ippisch’s apartment and seize electronic equipment and portable digital media storage devices.

Ippisch’s motion argues that the search was illegal because officers did not have a no-knock warrant and they failed to comply with the “knock-and-announce" rule.

When officers arrived at Ippisch’s East Broad Street apartment they entered because they discovered that the door had been kicked in and, knowing that Ippisch was in custody, they entered under “exigent circumstances” in case a burglary had occurred or was in progress.

Western Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Eric Norris last week ruled that, given the circumstances, the police properly entered the apartment.

The defendant's father, Mark Ippisch arrived on the scene and explained that he had kicked in the door earlier in the day in order to take out his son’s dog so it could relieve itself, according to court documents.

Ippisch also reportedly called his father from jail and asked him to retrieve a safe and a laptop that was needed in order to keep his bars up and running.

Mark Ippisch then led officers to his car, where they seized the computer and safe from the vehicle’s trunk.

Meanwhile, other officers were conducting a thorough search of the apartment, in which they located cellphones, cameras, film and several more computers, according to court records.

Additionally, police discovered and photographed “several sex toys and lots of bondage equipment, including restraints on the bed,” along with several boxes of Plan B, an after-morning birth control pill, a box of letters from girls, several pill bottles, “lots of U.S. currency,” and a portable refractometer, which is an instrument used for measuring concentrations of aqueous solutions.

A detective subsequently obtained a warrant to search the seized electronic equipment. According to Norris’ ruling on the search, the detective had been contacted by two women who said they had information relevant to the investigation, including Ippisch keeping an Excel spread sheet that listed all of his sexual partners.

According to the judge’s ruling, the search of the laptop seized from Mark Ippisch’s vehicle found a document that had the names of 94 women.

“After each name, there is a parenthetical with a short phrase, such as stripper, met downtown, girlfriend, aggressive but interesting, or texted her drunk and booty called her.”

Another warrant allowed for a search of Ippisch’s safe, which turned up $5,736 cash, a white powdery substance in a plastic baggie, a vehicle title, two Georgia driver’s licenses for Ippisch and a bank card with someone else’s name, all of which the judge indicated was placed into evidence.

The defense argued that the search was illegal because police photographed items that were not contraband, such as the sex toys.

The DA’s office argued that photographing sex toys and bondage equipment was appropriate “because this evidence shows (Ippisch’s) lustful disposition toward the crime of rape."

Norris noted in his ruling that prosecutors expect an ex-girlfriend of Ippisch will testify that he used the bondage equipment to rape her, Norris wrote in his ruling.

Norris stated that he was reserving ruling on the admission of the photographs until after a hearing is held on the prosecution’s intent to introduce evidence of prior sexual assault.

In his motion, Ippisch contends the search of his father’s vehicle and seizure of his laptop and safe were illegal and violated his expectation of privacy.

“Defendant had no legitimate claim to any expectation of privacy,” Norris wrote in his ruling. “Consequently, he cannot assert a valid claim of illegal search.”

Seizure of the items from the vehicle’s trunk was proper because “the officers were entitled to seize the safe and the computer under the plain view doctrine,” the judge opined. He added that earlier in the day of the search, the Magistrate Court judge had determined that there was probable cause to believe that Ippisch stored evidence of the crimes under investigation in the laptop and safe.

“The existence of probable cause combined with the fact that the items were in plain view rendered the seizure reasonable,” Norris wrote. “Therefore, the seizure of the safe and the computer did noy violate Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights, and shall be upheld.”

The judge ruled Ippisch’s request that that the list of women’s names should be granted because Georgia law protects against the search and seizure of private papers, “except when the papers are determined to be ‘instrumentalities’ of the crime in which the warrant was issued.”

The list of 94 women’s names were private papers because they include Ippisch’s personal thoughts and “this list could not have been used in the commission of the crimes for which Defendant is accused of,” Norris wrote in his ruling.

The cash, white powdery substance and a bank card issued under someone else’s name that were found in the safe were legally seized because the powdery substance was in plain sight, the cash was subject to forfeiture because of its proximity to an alleged controlled substance and there was probable cause to believe that the bank card bearing another person’s name was stolen property, the judge wrote in his order.

Ippisch is currently free on a $50,00 cash bond. Bond conditions include wearing an ankle monitor, residing with his father in Forsyth County, and having no contact with the victim or potential witnesses.

In May, Assistant District Attorney Jim Powers notified the court that in The Hedges rape case, “the State intends to present evidence of other acts of sexual and physical assault perpetrated against” another woman.

The woman would testify during the trial for K.P.’s alleged rape that Ippisch “physically and sexually assaulted her on several, if not regular, occasions during the course of their roughly one to two-year relationship,” Powers stated in the motion. “Specifically, (the woman) would testify that on several occasions the defendant raped her while she was semi-conscious or unconscious.”

The prosecutor further stated in the motion that “the State expects to present (the second woman’s) case for indictment to the grand jury for the charge of rape as well as potential additional charges, once the COVID-19 Judicial Emergency allows for the grand jury to reconvene."

Norris this week indicated it was uncertain when grand juries and trials would resume.

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