- The Washington Times - Monday, July 17, 2006

Alcoholism could have altered the memory of a 20-year-old female midshipman who accused the Naval Academy’s star football quarterback of raping her in her dormitory room early Jan. 29, a naval psychiatrist testified yesterday.

“An alcohol blackout could impair memory,” Cmdr. Gerald F. Donovan testified in the court-martial of Midshipman 1st Class Lamar S. Owens Jr.

Memory is a reconstruction process, and distortions can occur in “repackaging of the memory,” Cmdr. Donovan testified in a courtroom at the Washington Navy Yard. “Alcohol can affect reconstructed memory.”

Earlier yesterday, four male midshipmen testified that they repeatedly saw the female midshipman drinking and drunk, in bars in Annapolis.

“She was usually very drunk,” testified one witness, who had seen the woman about midnight Jan. 28 in the Acme Bar & Grill. That night, “she had a drink in her hand. She was drunk … swaying back and forth.”

Midshipman Owens, 22, of Savannah, Ga., was not at that bar that night, witnesses testified.

One witness said the woman walked up to another midshipman and “put her face close to his. He tried to get away from her.”

Another witness testified that he also saw the woman that night and that “she seemed to be intoxicated” when she walked up, grabbed his shirt to get his attention and asked “why I hadn’t called her back.”

“She left and came back in five or seven minutes,” the witness said. She again asked why he had not called before walking away. That happened “over five times,” he testified.

“She was overly friendly,” testified another midshipman, who also played on the Naval Academy’s football team.

Another football player midshipman recounted how he and another male midshipman helped the woman to her room that night. He described how the woman tried to drink through a straw at the bar, dozed off and later told him off when he told her to stop drinking before she went outside and sat on the curb until a cab arrived.

At the gate of the Naval Academy, he and another midshipman helped walk the woman to her dorm room.

“She had her left arm around my shoulders, and her right arm around his shoulders,” he said. “There was a lot of giggling. She fell down and was laughing.”

The witnesses spoke admiringly of Midshipman Owens. As a senior, Midshipman Owens led Navy to an 8-4 record that included wins over Army and Air Force and a Poinsettia Bowl victory over Colorado State University.

“I respect him,” said one witness. “I believe he was a leader. … He is definitely trustworthy.”

The accuser has testified that Midshipman Owens entered her room about 4 a.m. on Jan. 29 and tried to climb into her bunk with her. She said she told him no and blacked out. She said he forced himself on her.

Defense attorneys argue that the sexual content was consensual and that Midshipman Owens cut it off when he realized the woman had passed out on the bed.

There has been no other testimony or evidence of sexual assault at the court-martial. A nurse examined the woman several days after the incident and said she found no evidence of rape.

Yesterday, a computer forensics expert testified that Midshipman Owens and the accuser exchanged several e-mails and instant messages, but none could be traced to Jan. 28 and Jan. 29.

Midshipman Owens is charged with rape, conduct unbecoming an officer and violating a military protective order. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

The Washington Times is not identifying some witnesses because of their close relationship to the woman. The court-martial continues today.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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