Written by Ron Harris
29 July 2019


Interview with Rick Collins, Esq., Counsel for Shawn Rhoden


RON: Rick, you’re a lawyer based in New York who has been a columnist for Muscular Development for many years. You have represented numerous amateur and professional bodybuilders on a wide array of legal problems all over the country. It’s been disclosed that you are part of the defense team for Shawn Rhoden. What can you tell us about the case?


RICK: I can tell you that I was almost immediately contacted to quarterback a defense for Shawn. I conducted a search for a local defense lawyer in Salt Lake City, and ultimately settled on L. Monte Sleight. Monte is a very bright, experienced trial lawyer who has handled cases involving these types of allegations before. He’s thoroughly familiar with the Salt Lake City courts. We brought in a seasoned investigator to assist us, too. Ron, I was a criminal prosecutor for five years. Then I did garden-variety criminal defense for seven years. I’ve handled all sorts of criminal cases, including sex crimes. I know that evidence can disappear and memories can become hazy quickly. So, it’s always important to roll up your sleeves and promptly try to get to the bottom of things. I’m glad I got in early and flew out to Salt Lake City. As far as details specific to this case, I will only say that Shawn strongly denies the charges and that the case is currently being postponed to a date in August, a few weeks away. At that time, the judge will set a schedule for the various steps in the criminal proceeding, such as discovery, hearings and trial. 


RON: Will Shawn make a press statement?


RICK: Yes, he will post a written statement on his Instagram page at noon, Eastern time, today. It will be brief. I don’t want this to become a “he said, she said” in the media. However, Shawn was adamant about directly letting his fans know that he appreciates their support for him and that he did not do what he’s accused of doing. Beyond that, Ron, I don’t see that we will have anything to add. Criminal cases should be tried in a court of law, not the court of public opinion. I am obviously aware that many pieces of information about Shawn’s case and about his accuser are already out there in the public domain. But we don’t have anything specific to say about that for now, other than that Shawn is innocent and will vigorously fight this case.


RON: Can you answer some general questions about criminal cases? Not specific to this case?

RICK: You ask the questions, Ron, and I’ll answer as I deem fit.


RON: Okay, let’s start here. Who gets the benefit of the doubt in a criminal case?


RICK: Criminal charges can be filed if there is a basis of probable cause. Probable cause is a fairly low standard. It just means that there is reasonable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that the person charged – the Defendant – committed it. A person can be indicted, arrested and arraigned based on probable cause. But the person is presumed innocent. That presumption is a very important part of our legal system. The Defendant is presumed innocent unless a judge or jury finds them to be guilty. In a criminal trial, the Defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s a much higher standard. So, the Defendant, and nobody else, is entitled to the benefit of the doubt in any criminal case. 

RON: Is a person’s prior criminal history fair game in a trial?


RICK: It depends. Generally, prior criminal history is not allowed to be used as direct evidence to show that the Defendant committed the crime. If the Defendant testifies, a judge may allow certain prior criminal conduct to be used on cross-examination. When a witness who is not the Defendant testifies, they can be cross-examined on their prior bad acts, including criminal convictions. That’s because a person’s prior criminal history is relevant to their credibility. A jury can weigh issues of credibility when determining whether to believe the witness or not. The type of criminal conviction and how long ago it happened and things like that can determine how much weight should be afforded to its relevance.


RON: Anything else you want to add?


RICK: Yes, Ron, just one thing and it’s the primary reason I wanted to do this interview. The incident involving the criminal charges against Shawn occurred on Friday night, October 12th, 2018, during the weekend of the 2018 NPC Utah Classic in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Host Hotel for the contest was the Courtyard by Marriott, located at 10701 Holiday Park Dr., Sandy, Utah. I ask anyone who was in the hotel lobby on that Friday night between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm to call me at 516-294-0300. Or to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I am particularly interested in anyone who observed Shawn during that time interval or anyone who has video or pictures taken in the lobby during that time. Please call me if you were there. If you know people who were there and might have taken pictures or video, encourage them to call me. Shawn and I greatly appreciate it. Thanks for chatting, Ron.


RON: Thanks, Rick.







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