Jury Clears Derrick Rose|of Sexual Assault Claims

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A federal jury of six women and two men on Wednesday cleared pro basketball player Derrick Rose and two of his friends of rape after finding that a sexual encounter with their accuser was consensual.
     The New York Knicks point guard spoke briefly to reporters outside the courthouse after thanking each of the jurors individually and in a brief statement said, “I’m just focused on the season.”
     Rose also took the unusual step of posing for photographs with individual jurors in the courthouse lobby.
     His former girlfriend, whose name has been revealed during the trial despite her requests for anonymity, claimed in a lawsuit filed last year that Rose, Ryan Allen and Randy Hampton had taken turns raping her during the early hours of Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, after driving across town from Rose’s rented Beverly Hills residence.
     She said the assault happened after she visited Rose’s residence the night before. The woman said she had drank vodka and red wine and had shots of tequila later that evening. She also claimed she was drugged that night and that she only recalled flashes of what had occurred waking up in the morning to find used condoms in her bedroom, lubricant on her body and a black dress up around her neck.
     Rose, Allen and Hampton strongly denied the sex assault claims.
     All three men took the stand to testify that the sex was consensual, claiming that the woman was sober and lucid when she greeted them after they arrived at her apartment complex and invited the three of them “one at a time” into her bedroom.
     “In my mind, she consented every time we had sex,” Rose said on the stand. “Why wouldn’t she do it that time?”
     The jurors delivered the verdict after 1 p.m. Wednesday after about three hours of deliberations, clearing all three defendants of sexual battery, battery, and trespass. Rose was present and had his eyes closed while the verdict was read. His accuser kept her head bowed.
     The verdict capped a two-week trial in which jurors sat through hours of lurid testimony replete with tales of cabana sex, lap dances, sex toys, and drugs.
     In a blistering closing argument on Tuesday, Rose’s attorney Mark Baute told the jury that the woman’s claims were fake. He called her one of “the biggest liars you will ever see,” and said she had made the allegations to win a big money settlement from Rose.
     The attorney reserved plenty of scorn for her lawyers, accusing them of tapping into “racial stereotypes” of young black men by accusing the defendants of breaking into her house and gang-raping her.
     Baute also took aim at the media after the verdict, telling reporters the coverage of the case was biased against “black men and black athletes.”
     “All these men were innocent from day one,” Baute said.
     The woman’s attorney McCoy urged the jurors to deliver a verdict in his client’s favor, calling the defendants “sexual deviants” and arguing that the evidence showed the woman was too incapacitated to give her consent.
     He pointed to contradictions in the three men’s testimonies and asked jurors why three men who said they were sober the night of the incident came up with starkly different accounts.
     “Because none of them are true,” McCoy said with Rose, Allen and Hampton sitting to his left.
     After the verdict, McCoy said the woman would consider an appeal and that she was “devastated” by the verdict.
     “I don’t understand how a jury could come to that conclusion,” McCoy said.
     Some of the evidence weighed against a legal victory for the woman including a stream of text messages that Rose and the woman sent to each other on Aug. 26 and 27, 2013.
     One text she sent Rose stated that she “wakes up horny.” In another, sent after she left Beverly Hills, the woman wrote to Rose, in part: “I left my belt and my shit n yo bathroom. And u need to come to me right now.”
     McCoy had argued on Tuesday that while his client was not perfect, there was no indication in the texts that she knew that Hampton and Allen would be joining Rose.
     He pointed to a series of unanswered phones calls between Allen and the woman from roughly 2:00 a.m. to 2:50 a.m. that he said showed the woman was incapacitated.
     But her case was not helped by the testimonies of her former friend and a roommate.
     Defense witness Gabriela Chavez told jurors that the woman “lies about everything that comes out of her mouth” and that the woman had told her during a trip to Las Vegas that she had not been raped.
     Her former co-worker and roommate Keyana LaVergne said that not long after the incident the woman had appeared angry because Rose had not reimbursed her for a “sex belt.”
     “Honestly, not one time did ‘rape’ come out of her mouth,” LaVergne said in a video deposition played for jurors.
     Another factor that could have swayed the jury in Rose’s favor was the lack of physical evidence in the case. The woman did not report the alleged assault until 2015, meaning that a rape kit was never submitted. The woman said she delayed going to the police because she feared what would happen to Rose and feared retaliation.
     One of the two male jurors who sat on the jury said Rose was cleared because the woman failed to prove her case and did not appear credible.
     Jared, 25, said it “felt like she was playing us” while the defendants were “genuine, honest, and to the best of their ability told the truth.”
     He added, “The second her lawyer started questioning her she would start crying. Granted, that could be realistic. But I feel I’m pretty good at reading people and I felt as if it was false.”
     Hampton and Allen were represented by attorney Michael Monico.
     “I thought her case had no merit,” Monico said after the verdict.
     U.S. Judge Michael Fitzgerald presided over the trial.

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