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Saturday, March 2, 2024 | Back issues
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Derrick Rose Rape Trial Recaps ‘Rashomon’

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Two weeks into a civil jury trial to determine whether NBA star Derrick Rose and his two friends sexually assaulted a Californian woman, not much is clear.

Court testimony has been sometimes disturbing, often lurid and always ponderous: replete with tales of cabana sex, lap dances, ecstasy, Tequila, and in one instance a detailed account of how difficult it is to open lubricant without the lights on.

Proceedings have played out like an excruciating retelling of Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon," with witnesses on differing sides of the case presenting muddy and contradictory testimony told through the mist of three-year-old memories.

Rose's 30-year-old on-and-off again girlfriend accused the New York Knicks point guard and his two best friends last year of trespassing and raping her at her apartment in Los Angeles during the early hours of Tuesday Aug. 27, 2013 after driving across town from Rose's rented Beverly Hills mansion.

Rose, then with the Chicago Bulls, was living with Ryan Allen and Randy Hampton while he recovered from an injury and trained in Carson and Los Angeles.

There is little that's undisputed. But the plaintiff and defense all agree that she arrived with her acquaintance Jessica "Kendra" Groff at Rose's residence, where they shared shots of Tequila by a fire pit. From that point onward, the parties' accounts of the night of Monday, Aug. 26 and the early hours of Tuesday sharply diverge.

The woman, whose name has been revealed during trial, said she had been drinking heavily before she arrived at Rose's on the Monday and that before she left that night Groff said she was drugged.

"I've never felt like that before," the woman said on the stand. "I just felt I was less in control, more goofy."

Rose and his co-defendants deny the woman's claims. Though they have not always agreed on the finer details, they all say that the sex was consensual, that the woman appeared lucid and sober, and said they could have sex with her, one at a time.

They say the woman came down to greet them at the apartment complex when they arrived, opening three doors to let them into the building.

"In my mind, she consented every time we had sex," Rose said on the stand. "Why wouldn't she do it that time?"

The defense began presenting its case Friday and has suggested to the jury that the woman's relationship with Rose was less serious than she has made out, ("non-exclusive" is how Rose describes it), that she was sexually aggressive, and hoped to extract a big money settlement from the player.

In criminal cases, jurors must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed. In this case, the jury need only conclude by a preponderance of the evidence that the woman was sexually assaulted.

Weighing against the plaintiff is the dearth of scientific evidence. She did not report the alleged assault in 2013 when authorities could have gathered a rape kit. She said she did not report the alleged assault until 2015 because she feared retaliation. A criminal investigation is ongoing.

So the six women and two men on the jury have largely had to rely on he-said-she-said testimony and a stream of text messages Rose and the woman sent to each other.

Both legal teams have tried to use the content of the text messages to their advantage. But as U.S. Judge Michael Fitzgerald pointed out in a July order, the messages are "subject to conflicting interpretations."

In the final reckoning, it's likely the case will boil down to who jurors find more credible: the plaintiff or Rose and his co-defendants.

The trial continues Tuesday in Federal Court.

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