- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Closing arguments in the rape trial of the U.S. Naval Academy’s former star quarterback were interrupted for more than an hour yesterday so the presiding judge could review the record of trial testimony.

Cmdr. John Maksym recessed the proceedings after he grew concerned that excerpts of some testimony were being misrepresented by the lead prosecutor.

Midshipman Lamar S. Owens Jr., 22, of Savannah, Ga., is charged in connection with an incident that occurred in the room of a female midshipman at the academy’s Bancroft Hall on Jan. 29. Midshipman Owens insists the sexual encounter was consensual, but his accuser testified that she repeatedly rejected his advances.

“No statement of ‘I have been raped’ was uttered in this courtroom,” Cmdr. Maksym said after reviewing audiotapes of the testimony. He told the five officers who will decide Midshipman Owens’ fate that only he has the authority to certify a published record of court proceedings, and that the government was citing a record that has not been created.

“They don’t exist in your world at all,” Cmdr. Maksym said loudly, as he ordered the panel to disregard several key references that Navy prosecutor David Wilson projected on a screen more than 20 minutes into his presentation.

After the break, Mr. Wilson used the balance of his time to urge the five jurors to review the entire record while considering the charges.

“He has seriously misrepresented the record,” said Reid Weingarten, Midshipman Owens’ civilian defense counsel.

Both Midshipman Owens and his accuser have testified that they had several drinks at separate locations in Baltimore and Annapolis in the hours before their early morning encounter. Other witnesses have said the woman was seen having as many as nine drinks at a restaurant and later at an Annapolis bar favored by midshipmen.

During his summation, Mr. Weingarten told the jury that Midshipman Owens’ accuser probably decided that luring the former quarterback to her room moments after she had spent time with her boyfriend was incompatible with her image of herself when she was sober.

“She does not know she shifts gears when she is drinking,” said Mr. Weingarten. He noted that several witnesses testified that the 20-year-old woman is a binge drinker and has engaged in other activities on and off campus that are against academy regulations.

“She is a serial violator of academy rules,” Mr. Weingarten said.

The Associated Press is not identifying the woman because she says she is a victim of a sexual assault.

On rebuttal, the government urged jurors to focus their deliberations to the events of Jan. 29. “The fact that on some weekends she has too much to drink” has nothing to do with the charges in this case, Mr. Wilson said.

He called a telephone conversation recorded by Naval Criminal Investigations Service personnel “a window into Midshipman Owens’ soul.”

Midshipman Owens can be heard repeatedly apologizing to his accuser for what occurred in her room. Midshipman Owens has insisted he was invited to her room and that she enthusiastically initiated the sexual encounter. He said he broke it off and left her room when she abruptly became still and unresponsive. He has testified that she appeared to be sleeping.

Besides rape, he also is charged with conduct unbecoming an officer for engaging in sexual contact on academy grounds and disobeying a lawful order. The latter charge stems from his violation of a Naval protective order aimed at keeping him away from his accuser’s room.

If convicted of all charges, Midshipman Owens could be sentenced to life in prison.

Jurors are to receive instructions from the judge at 8:30 a.m. today.


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