Accuser's drinking habits described

Former Naval Academy quarterback being court-martialed on rape charge

July 18, 2006|By BRADLEY OLSON | BRADLEY OLSON,SUN REPORTER

Washington -- Defense lawyers continued yesterday to attack the credibility of the woman who accused former Navy quarterback Lamar S. Owens Jr. of raping her.

On the sixth day of Owens' court-martial at the Washington Navy Yard, three defense witnesses - two of whom were Owens' friends and former teammates - testified that the woman becomes "socially aggressive" and "flirtatious" when she drinks but is otherwise very "reserved."

At one point, so many had used the same descriptions - exactly how defense lawyers had characterized the woman throughout the proceedings - that officers hearing the case asked if any of the men had been coached in their testimony by defense attorneys. All said they weren't.

The Sun is not identifying the woman - a Naval Academy senior - because she is an alleged victim of sexual assault.

Owens, a 22-year-old Naval Academy senior who was not allowed to graduate in May, is charged with rape, conduct unbecoming an officer and violating a military protective order not to go near his accuser. The rape was alleged to have occurred early on Jan. 29 after both had been drinking in separate settings.

Ensign Gavin Whittle, a 2006 academy graduate who said he knew Owens and the woman, testified that she was "usually incredibly drunk" when she frequented bars in Annapolis and recalled one occasion when he met her more than a year ago.

Whittle testified that when he walked into a midshipman's room where the woman was present, she asked Whittle whether he wanted a lap dance. When he said no, Whittle testified, she yelled an expletive at him.

That anecdote was almost prohibited by the Navy judge in the case, who has strictly adhered to rape-shield laws. Cmdr. John Maksym had not permitted the woman's sexual history to be raised in the case.

Ryan Roeling, a senior this year and an offensive lineman for Navy's football team, described Owens as "an extremely awesome [team] captain" and told officers hearing the case about a night when he took the female midshipman to her dorm room when she was too drunk to get there herself.

The defense has called a forensic toxicologist, a forensic psychiatrist, a computer consultant, Navy football coach Paul Johnson and several of Owens' friends and former teammates.

The alleged victim testified Tuesday that she "barely knew" Owens, didn't invite him to her room and resisted repeatedly while he raped her. She said she moved away from him but didn't say "no" or alert her sleeping roommate.

Defense lawyers have countered that she invited Owens to her room, consented to sex and passed out, later forgetting it occurred and erasing evidence that she gave Owens her room number in an instant message just before the incident. Owen maintains that he is innocent.

Cmdr. Gerald Donovan, a forensic psychiatrist with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, testified about how memories can be corrupted and "re-packaged" erroneously by people who are impaired during events they later try to remember.

A computer consultant who analyzed the computers of Owens and the woman testified that no instant messages between the two were received, corroborating a similar analysis made in a government lab. The court-martial resumes this morning.

bradley.olson@baltsun.com

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