By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
The prosecution began its full court press against former University of Maryland basketball player Damonte Dodd who is facing rape charges in an alleged 2017 sexual assault in College Park. On the first day of the trial that began in Prince George’s County Circuit Court jurors heard from the victim after opening arguments.
Prince George’s County Assistant State’s Attorney Vernon Brownlee painted the picture of a privileged student athlete who used his status on campus to take advantage of the alleged victim after an evening of drinking before having non-consensual sex with the intoxicated woman without her consent in the early morning hours of Nov. 1, 2017. Brownlee surmised that the accuser was so intoxicated it would have been difficult for her to be in control of her behavior while under the influence of alcohol.
“One privilege he did not have was taking away [her] right to choose,” Brownlee said.
However, Dodd’s attorney, Thomas Mooney, began laying out his defense by arguing there were multiple inconsistencies in the accuser’s statements to the police. He claimed that she never said no to the former Terps basketball player despite feeling “uncomfortable.”
Mooney alleged in his opening statement that the accuser was interested in Dodd when she first saw him at Terrapin’s Turf“ on Halloween. He inferred that she was attracted to Dodd when she entered the establishment. His argument was the victim “clearly had her eye on Damonte” at the bar, that she approached him and began flirting. Reports say Mooney contends that the jury would see how the evidence lines up with his argument.
“This is an easy, straightforward case,” Mooney stated. “Because everything I’ve just told you is about to play out.”
There is reportedly video evidence showing the accuser and Dodd at the establishment before the alleged rape. Brownlee acknowledged that the accuser entered the bar with false identification and used cocaine while there. However, the state’s attorney emphasized that the accuser’s decisions that night shouldn’t be evaluated in the same way as Dodd’s.
When the accuser took the stand she claimed that she and her friends were in Halloween costumes and had begun drinking prior to arriving at the bar. She also admitted that she joined her friends by ingesting a “bump” of cocaine prior to meeting Dodd and his group of friends.
One of Dodd’s associates, who supposedly asked the accuser if he could buy her a drink since they were free for him at the bar, asked if he could buy her one. The video surveillance footage presented Monday showed that Dodd and the woman began dancing together before leaving the bar.
The woman claimed she wanted to get pizza and Dodd told her that they could get food at his friend’s apartment in Terrapin Row. Other video surveillance footage showed her and Dodd walking into the apartment complex together.
After the group entered the apartment, the woman said she remembered vomiting into a kitchen trash can. According to her testimony, Dodd said she would be more comfortable on the couch, so she moved there and continued to throw up and she said she was “nauseous, confused, very tired [and] sick.”
She claimed that later she told Dodd that she was too sick and didn’t want to have sex and he apparently relented. However, by then, he allegedly had already penetrated her. On Nov. 3, 2017, the woman reportedly went home to her family. Once there, she told her aunt, who is a police officer, about the alleged rape.
The defense couldn’t cross-examine the accuser on day one of the trial.