- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The former quarterback of the U.S. Naval Academy football team testified yesterday that a sexual encounter that led to a charge of rape against him was initiated by his accuser, who sent him a computerized instant message.

“She invited me to her room,” said Midshipman 1st Class Lamar S. Owens Jr. He told a court-martial panel at the Washington Navy Yard that when he went to his accuser’s room, she tugged on his sweater and indicated she wanted him to join her on her bed.

Midshipman Owens testified that the encounter ended abruptly when the woman became unresponsive.

“It was the most bizarre thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said, adding that he soon realized the woman’s roommate was asleep 10 feet away, which “just added to the weirdness of the situation.”

“Of course I’m upset about her false accusation, but I don’t hate her. I wasn’t raised that way,” Midshipman Owens said.

The encounter occurred in the pre-dawn hours of Jan. 29, at the academy’s Bancroft Hall.

It is against academy regulations to engage in sexual activity on campus.

Midshipman Owens, 22, of Savannah, Ga., is charged with rape, conduct unbecoming an officer and failure to obey a lawful order. He faces life in prison if convicted of all charges.

“If I could change everything about the couple of minutes of consensual sex, I would change it in a heartbeat,” Midshipman Owens said.

He repeatedly described the incident as “sex gone bad.”

The woman testified last week that she resisted Midshipman Owens’ advances and protested that she had a boyfriend.

Defense attorneys recalled the woman to the stand yesterday and questioned her about her use of a prescription pain medicine. The woman testified that she took Vicodin, prescribed to her after surgery on her left foot, but did not say when she took the medication.

The woman, now a senior at the academy, said she had “nightmares and weird hallucinations” after taking the medicine. “I thought it was normal.”

Although the woman denied ever abusing the drug, she took it for as long as two months before exhausting the prescription.

She testified that she had no recollection of several incidents about which male witnesses have testified during the court-martial proceeding. The incidents included encounters in bars when witnesses testified that the woman consumed several drinks. Several witnesses have testified that they saw her drinking heavily at the Acme Bar and Grill in Annapolis the night of Jan. 28.

Midshipman Owens’ civilian attorney questioned her about a call she made at 3:49 a.m. Jan. 29 as indicated by her cell-phone bill.

“I made a call to my voice mail,” the woman replied, after examining a copy of the bill.

In earlier testimony yesterday, junior officers from the Navy and Marine Corps, including several bound for flight school, testified that Midshipman Owens is a man of honor whose dedication to the Naval Academy extended beyond the football field.

“He was out for the good of people underneath him,” said Ensign Adam B. Lane, who roomed with Midshipman Owens for three years.

Former academy quarterbacks Navy Lt. Craig Cadeto and Marine Corps Lt. Aaron K. Polanco, who spent six hours or more a day with Midshipman Owens when they played together, praised him as a leader and team player.

“He’s very trustworthy,” Lt. Polanco testified. “He’s a great leader… on and off the field.”

Midshipman Owens was restricted from making contact with his accuser early in the investigation. He has admitted violating that restriction by walking through her dormitory wing Feb. 15. Midshipman Owens first met his accuser during the summer after his freshman year, and although he acknowledged he was attracted to her, he said she never said anything to discourage his advances.

Staff writer Arlo Wagner contributed to this report.

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