IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Jurors on Wednesday resumed deliberating in the case of a former University of Iowa football player accused of sexually assaulting a female athlete while she was passed out in a dorm room.
The jury must decide whether to believe the woman, who was a freshman when the alleged assault happened in October 2007, or defendant Cedric Everson, who claims the woman had been drinking that night and simply couldn't remember consenting to sex with him.
Both sides agree that the woman was out partying before she ended up in an empty dorm room, where Everson and a teammate of his had sex with her before she woke up covered in blood. The woman, who was a highly recruited athlete, testified that she was a virgin and did not consent to sexual intercourse with either player.
Everson is charged with third-degree sexual abuse and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. His former teammate, Abe Satterfield, reached a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and testified at Everson's trial.
Prosecutor Anne Lahey told jurors during closing arguments Tuesday that Everson snuck in the room and committed a “stealth assault” on the woman while she was asleep after Satterfield had forced intercourse with her.
The woman testified that she performed oral sex on Satterfield to try to avoid intercourse, but he held her down and ignored her pleas to stop. She said she woke up the next morning naked and covered in blood with Satterfield in the bed next to her.
She said she didn't know for weeks that Everson was involved, when she reported the assault to police. By then, Everson had bragged to teammates he and Satterfield had “trained” a woman, Lahey said.
Lahey told jurors that Satterfield and Everson “traded places” while the woman was asleep. Everson entered the room, told Satterfield to get out of bed, lifted her leg and had intercourse with her before leaving and telling Satterfield to get back in bed to cover up his actions, she said.
Even if jurors believe Satterfield's testimony that her sex with him was consensual, the woman never consented to sex with Everson, Lahey said.
Everson's defense attorney, Leon Spies, told jurors that the woman had been drinking heavily earlier that night, but witnesses who saw her around the dormitory hours later said she wasn't acting drunk. He said she doesn't remember many details of the night, including having sex with his client.
“(Her) purposeful, voluntary actions show she was in a functional blackout much of that night. She was able to walk, talk, communicate, laugh, run, without any memory of it,” Spies said in his closing argument. “Amnesia does not mean helpless,” he repeated twice.
Spies acknowledged testimony from football player Mike Daniels, who testified that Everson grabbed condoms and asked Daniels to escort him to the room because he was planning to have sex with the woman. Daniels testified that he waited outside the room until Everson gave a “thumbs up” sign and he left.
Spies said his client never would have asked someone to be a witness if he was planning to commit a crime. And he noted that semen recovered from the woman the next day that matched Everson's DNA proved he did not use condoms.
“What that evidence demonstrates is there was sexual activity that was hurried, that was passionate, and that was without the opportunity to use a condom,” he said. He said his client made “bad decisions” but did not commit a crime.
The closing arguments came after Judge Paul Miller threw out the most serious charge against Everson: second-degree sexual abuse, which carried a maximum penalty of up to 25 years in prison. He said he found “insufficient evidence” that Everson was aided and abetted by Satterfield and jurors should not be allowed to consider that charge.
He instructed jurors to consider Everson's guilt on third-degree sexual abuse, assault with intent to commit sex abuse and assault charges.
Satterfield pleaded guilty to assault with intent to inflict injury. But he testified the woman was “the aggressor” and he got out of the bed in the middle of the night after Everson entered the room and tapped him on the shoulder. He said he had no idea what happened next because he fell back asleep, but he got back in bed after Everson again tapped him on the shoulder.
Both players were suspended from the Iowa team days after the assault and later transferred to other schools, as did the woman.