Owens claims accuser invited him into bed

Mid says alleged victim `misrepresented' facts of case


WASHINGTON -- Testifying in his own defense yesterday, former Navy quarterback Lamar S. Owens Jr. said that he and the female midshipman who has accused him of rape had a "budding relationship" and that their Jan. 29 sexual encounter was consensual.

He said she invited him into her room and when he got there, into her bed. While they were having sex, he said, the woman passed out. He called her name, she looked at him, and then fell asleep, he said. When he saw she was "resting peacefully," he left and went back to his room.

"It was the most bizarre thing that ever happened to me in my life," Owens, in his dress whites, said of the experience. "I've never been having sex with someone and then they just stopped."

Owens also said he couldn't tell that the woman was intoxicated when they talked just before the encounter, which happened in the early morning hours, after both had been drinking in separate settings. The woman testified last week that she had consumed seven drinks in about two hours that night, including hard liquor, and didn't remember parts of the night because she was so intoxicated.

In an intense cross-examination, Lt. Kathleen Helmann focused on potentially incriminating statements made by Owens to the alleged victim in a Feb. 8 conversation recorded by a Navy investigator.

Helmann asked repeatedly why Owens didn't attempt to give the alleged victim his side of the story, why he apologized to her repeatedly, said he wanted to kill himself after the encounter and asked her if she had gone to the hospital or talked to police.

"Is it normal for someone who engaged in consensual sex to go to the hospital afterward?" Helmann asked. Owens said that by that time, Navy head coach Paul Johnson had told him he was being investigated and advised him to get a lawyer. He said he was "trying to fish for evidence" in the conversation to see if the woman had turned him in. He apologized for "sex gone bad" and made the other remarks, he said, because thought it might lead her to "back off" on the charges.

The Sun is not identifying the woman 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 Jan. 29.

Owens spent about two hours on the witness stand, answering questions calmly and quietly during the seventh day of the trial at the Washington Navy Yard.

Repeatedly in his testimony, he used the term "false accusation," and he said the alleged victim "misrepresented the facts." He said, "I was attracted to [the alleged victim]. ... I had told her that on a couple of occasions." At no point did she tell him she was not interested in him, he said.

Owens said he and the female midshipman exchanged computer instant messages and that she invited him to her room. When he was there, she smiled at him and then climbed into her bunk. He stood on a chair and they chatted, he testified.

"She grabbed my sweater and tugged it," Owens said. " I took that to mean she wanted me to join her in bed." But she passed out during consensual sex, so he stopped the sexual activity, he said.

"I called her name," he said. "And she looked at me and didn't say anything. And she put her head down. Once I thought she was resting peacefully, I left and went back to my room."

He remained composed throughout a heated cross-examination, although he sometimes disputed Helmann's assertions.

"What did you mean when you said, `I can never expect you to forgive me?'" Helmann asked.

"I meant that I could never expect her to forgive me for putting her in that situation, for putting myself in that situation," he said, later adding: "The whole situation was bizarre. If I could change it to this day, I still would." Owens said he still felt sorry for what happened.

"She may believe that something happened, but I know for a fact that nothing happened," he said. Jurors asked Owens several pointed questions as well; a jury of five academy officials will decide the case.

"If you did not believe she was drunk, what did you think happened when she passed out?" one juror asked. Owens said he didn't know.

"If you were concerned about [the alleged victim], why didn't you wake her roommate after she passed out?" the same juror asked.

"I thought she was resting peacefully," Owens said. "I wish I could change a lot of things that I did."

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.

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