- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2006

Jurors at the court-martial of a former U.S. Naval Academy quarterback listened yesterday to a tape of a phone call in which he apologized to a female midshipman authorities say he raped in her dorm room.

On the tape, Midshipman 1st Class Lamar S. Owens Jr., speaking in a soft voice and apparently weeping at times, says he considered committing suicide. He tells the woman he “didn’t do it for long” and that “you weren’t awake.” The tape was made Feb. 8; the purported rape took place Jan. 29.

Midshipman Owens never uses the word “rape” in the conversation. He does not respond when the woman asks, “Why don’t you call my dad, tell him you raped his daughter?”

The defense had tried to block airing the tape before the jury, arguing that the call had been scripted by investigators. They said Midshipman Owens only agreed to take the call because he thought she had reported the incident to authorities and was afraid of antagonizing her.

But Navy Cmdr. John Maksym ruled that Navy investigators had followed proper procedures.

“There’s no way I can imagine how it made you feel,” Midshipman Owens says on the tape.

Later, he says, “I apologize. I’m so sorry. When I woke up the next day and I called you, I really wanted to kill myself, and I still feel that way.”

Midshipman Owens sat at the defense table and showed no visible reaction as the tape was played. Afterward, the prosecution rested its case.

Midshipman Owens, 22, of Savannah, Ga., is charged with rape, conduct unbecoming an officer and violating a military protective order. If convicted, he would be eligible for a maximum term of life in prison.

The woman has testified that Midshipman Owens came to her room as she slept and forced himself on her. She said she resisted him and did not consent to the sex.

The Associated Press is not identifying the woman or her close friends because she is a reputed victim of sexual assault.

Cmdr. Maksym rejected defense motions to throw out the charges yesterday but indicated he did not think the prosecution’s case was strong on the rape charge. He said his opinion was “based on the credibility, or in some instances, absence of credibility, of the alleged victim.”

“A reasonable jury could find substantial reasonable doubt as to Midshipman Owens’ guilt on the 120 charge,” he said, referring to the rape charge. Jurors were not in the room during the judge’s remarks.

Cmdr. Maksym also criticized prosecutors on Thursday, saying some of the evidence and witnesses they presented during the trial has been weak.

Midshipman Owens’ attorneys said during opening arguments on Tuesday that the woman invited him to her room and that the sex was consensual. Midshipman Owens broke it off when he realized the woman, who was drunk, had passed out in bed.

The former football standout led Navy to an 8-4 record that included victories over military academy rivals Air Force and Army and a victory in the Poinsettia Bowl over Colorado State University. He was the team’s most valuable player.

A nurse who examined the woman a few days after the incident said that the woman showed no physical signs of rape when she conducted a rape kit exam at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.

However, Cmdr. Maksym refused to let another Navy nurse testify that some rape victims don’t show any sign of injury, but said he would include some language about it in his jury instructions.


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