- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2006

U.S. Naval Academy’s star football quarterback Lamar S. Owens Jr.’s behavior in January suggested that he raped a female midshipman, but a medical examination could not confirm that the woman had been sexually assaulted, testimony in his court-martial revealed yesterday.

Midshipman 1st Class Lamar S. Owens Jr., 22, of Savannah, Ga., and the woman, 20, who is not identified, have acknowledged that they were intoxicated early Jan. 29, when authorities say the rape occurred in the woman’s dormitory room.

But, Lt. Cmdr. Amy Branstetter, who examined the woman two days after the purported incident told jurors yesterday that she found nothing to confirm that a sexual assault had occurred.

“I didn’t find anything,” Cmdr. Branstetter testified. “There were no injuries of any kind, not even minute injuries.”

Cmdr. Branstetter testified that during the exam, the woman was very quiet.

“She was tearful and embarrassed,” and the woman said she had been a virgin and was a Catholic, Cmdr. Branstetter said.

Medical witnesses testified that signs of rape could have disappeared within days before the exam, and they agreed with prosecutor Lt. Kathleen Hellman that lack of physical injury is not a sign that the woman had agreed to have sex.

The woman testified Tuesday that she could not remember details of the rape because she had blacked out from having too much to drink. Witnesses said Midshipman Owens had called two of the woman’s close friends and arranged to meet with them about 20 hours after the encounter.

The Washington Times is not identifying the witnesses because of their close relationship to the woman.

Over the past two days, the two friends testified that Midshipman Owens appeared sorrowful when they got together near the dormitory at about midnight Jan. 29.

“He was crying,” one witness told jurors yesterday.

When asked about the incident, the witness said: “He told us he didn’t really know. He was drunk. He didn’t recall that” the woman told him she had a boyfriend to reject sex with him.

Midshipman Owens also told the friends that “he didn’t know what he was thinking,” that things had “escalated” and that he should have left her room.

Civilian defense attorney Brian M. Heberlig asked a witness, “He never said he raped her, right?”

“True,” the witness replied.

The purported rape occurred on a Sunday morning. That evening, the victim attended a dinner, but her behavior was unusually subdued and she left early, witnesses testified.

Today, the court-martial judge, Cmdr. John Maksym, will decide whether a recording of a telephone conversation that the woman had with Midshipman Owens, in which authorities said he tearfully apologized to her but stopped short of admitting rape, should be admitted as evidence.

If convicted of rape, conduct unbecoming of an officer and violating a protective order, Midshipman Owens could be dishonorably discharged and sentenced to life in prison.

The court-martial resumes today.

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