The trial of Parker Gilbert ’16 began Tuesday morning as attorneys delivered opening statements to a courtroom filled to capacity. In these arguments, counsel for the state said that Gilbert, 21, entered the room of a female undergraduate student uninvited and raped her. The defense stated that the acts of the night were consensual.
The prosecution then began its case in chief with testimony from the female student, 19, and her father.
Gilbert, who is no longer enrolled in classes at the College, is charged with seven counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault against the female undergraduate student and one count of criminal trespass for entering her room uninvited in the early morning of May 2, 2013.
Gilbert, of London, was arrested May 15. If convicted, Gilbert could serve up to 20 years in prison for each count of sexual assault.
Attorney Paul Fitzgerald began the prosecution’s opening statement by describing the night of the alleged assault. The female student was asleep in her room, Fitzgerald told the jury, when she was awakened by the defendant, who was raping her vaginally and asking her if she liked it. Fitzgerald said that the female student, unsure of what was happening, initially said “yes,” then told the defendant to stop when he began raping her anally. Gilbert then raped her orally and vaginally again before leaving her room, Fitzgerald said.
May 1, the evening before the alleged assault, the female student had received a phone call from her father letting her know that the family’s dog needed to be put down, Fitzgerald said. She was stunned and saddened by the news, he said, and went back to her dorm room immediately after a choir rehearsal that night.
She later joined a few of her friends at Beta Alpha Omega fraternity, Fitzgerald said. At the fraternity, she briefly encountered the defendant.
At about 1:38 a.m., the female student and two friends returned to her residential hall. The female student, upset about her dog, asked a female friend to stay the night with her, Fitzgerald said. The friend remained in her bed throughout the night, he said. The friend took medications that, exacerbated by alcohol, led her to sleep through the alleged assault, he said.
That night, Fitzgerald said the female student’s roommate was in the other room of their two-room double, working on an academic assignment.
The morning after the alleged assault, the female student told friends what had occurred. The friend who had slept in her bed that night reacted by calling Gilbert “hot” or “cute,” Fitzgerald said. Another friend recommended that she seek help. The female student went to Dick’s House, then to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for a rape kit.
The night of May 3, the female student encountered Gilbert outside Psi Upsilon fraternity, Fitzgerald said. She was terrified at the sight of him and immediately threw up, Fitzgerald said. The next day, Gilbert emailed her to say that her reaction revealed that he must have acted “inappropriately,” that intoxication was “no excuse” and that he was sorry.
At the end of his statement, Fitzgerald urged the jury to pay close attention to witnesses’ credibility and use common sense. He also reminded the jury that the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Attorney Robert Cary ’86, of Williams and Connolly, then delivered the opening statement for the defense, telling the jury that the female student is “trapped by a story that does not make sense.” The sexual intercourse, Cary said, was consensual.
“It was clumsy, awkward, drunk college sex,” he said.
Cary then questioned five parts of the prosecution’s case.
First, Cary said that the female student’s friend, who was in bed with her the night of the alleged assault, was awake during the alleged attack but suffered memory loss due to the interaction between alcohol and her anxiety medication.
Second, Cary said that there was no injury to the female student’s mouth, which contradicts the allegations that Gilbert forced her to engage in oral sex and forced his hand into her mouth.
Third, Cary referenced the female student’s room, which jury members saw as part of a jury viewing Monday. He argued that though the female student claimed she yelled for Gilbert to stop, sound testing revealed that any such scream would have been heard by her roommate.
Fourth, Cary said that the female student’s roommate reported hearing whispering coming from the female student’s room before hearing sounds suggestive of intercourse, which does not correlate with the prosecution’s allegation that the female student did not wake up until after Gilbert had begun raping her.
Fifth, Cary said, the female student’s roommate did not report hearing Gilbert address her in a violent manner. The roommate, the only person not intoxicated on the night of the alleged assault, is the “truth-teller” in the case, Cary said.
After opening statements concluded, the prosecution called the female student’s father to testify. He said he first learned of the assault from his wife, who called him around 7:30 p.m. Thursday with the news. His daughter came home that weekend and was “rather quiet and upset,” he said. In the cross-examination, defense attorney Cathy Green, of Green and Utter, asked whether his daughter was still upset about her sick dog at the time. He said she had been.
Next, the prosecution called the female student to testify. She said she drank approximately three shots of vodka before heading to Beta on May 1. She was not “in the mood to drink,” she said, and was more interested in spending time with her friends.
The female student said that Gilbert approached her multiple times while she was at Beta, tapping her on the shoulder to get her attention and introducing her to other people in the fraternity. She said she felt “really strange” about the introductions and stopped talking to Gilbert.
The female student said she fell asleep very quickly after coming home that night, and that the next thing she remembers is Gilbert raping her. She first recognized him by his backward baseball cap and facial features, she said.
She said Gilbert addressed her with derogatory, gender-specific epithets while he raped her and asked her to tell him she liked it.
“I never heard anyone speak to me with that much hatred in their voice,” she said. “I was terrified.”
The next morning, she said, memories of the night slowly came back to her and she was in physical pain. She decided to undergo a medical examination as part of a rape-kit procedure at DHMC, a process that took over four hours, she said. That night, she said, she did not feel comfortable sleeping in her room and slept in a friend’s dorm room.
When she received the email from Gilbert on May 4 apologizing for what happened the night of the alleged assault and acknowledging her physical reaction after their encounter outside Psi U, the female student said she chose not to answer.
The female student said the sexual intercourse was not consensual and that she had said “no” to Gilbert several times. She also said that she was not inebriated at the time of the alleged assault and that Gilbert spoke very clearly while he raped her.
During her cross-examination, Green said that though the female student had told Hanover Police chief Frank Moran that she had not used her Twitter account since coming to Dartmouth or used her Instagram account since the assault, she had written tweets throughout her time at the College and posted pictures after the alleged assault on May 2. The defense showed three tweets to the jury, each of which related to alcohol consumption.
When asked about how much she drank on May 1, the female student said she did not remember the exact quantity. She estimated that she had consumed approximately three shots in her residence hall and a few beers at Beta.
The female student said that she may have met Gilbert once before the night of May 1 but does not remember exactly when the encounter occurred.
When asked whether she could tell if Gilbert was drunk during the assault, the female student said she could because she had never heard the type of words Gilbert said to her “come out of a sober person’s mouth.”
Judge Peter Bornstein presided over the trial. Court will resume tomorrow at 9 a.m. with further cross-examination of the female student.
County prosecutor Lara Saffo said the trial is estimated to run for about two weeks. George Ostler ’77, a representative for the defense of DesMeules, Olmstead and Ostler, did not respond to requests for comment.
As a general practice, The Dartmouth does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
Editor’s note (June 15, 2014): Gilbert was acquitted of all charges on March 27, 2014. For a full story, click here.