In his closing statement for the defense on Wednesday, attorney Robert Cary ’86 said that his client, Parker Gilbert ’16, was not guilty of rape, and that the complainant’s claims were inconsistent with testimony from her former roommate.
“What happened was drunken, awkward college sex,” said Cary, of the firm Williams and Connolly. “It wasn’t sexual assault, it wasn’t rape.”
After nearly two weeks, during which the prosecution called 23 witnesses and the defense called four, the jury began deliberating around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday. They will resume at 9 a.m. Thursday.
The jury will decide whether Gilbert, 21, is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of five counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault against a female undergraduate student, 19, and one count of criminal trespass for entering her room uninvited in the early hours of May 2, 2013. Judge Peter Bornstein dismissed two other charges on Tuesday for insufficient evidence.
The Dartmouth does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
Gilbert, who is from London, is no longer enrolled in classes at the College. If convicted, he could serve up to 20 years in prison for each count of sexual assault.
Cary told the jury that the roommate’s testimony — that she heard whispering between Gilbert and the complainant in the latter’s room, followed by heavy breathing that she associated with sexual intercourse — was inconsistent with the complainant’s claims that she cried out in pain and that Gilbert used “forceful” and “hateful” words.
The only distinct phrase that the roommate heard was the alleged victim saying, “Don’t push me,” she testified last Thursday.
“This contradicts the complainant’s story,” Cary said, a story that “doesn’t make any sense.”
To preserve the complainant’s anonymity, The Dartmouth granted the complainant’s roommate and other floormates anonymity. The complainant’s roommate is a member of The Dartmouth staff.
Cary pointed to several conflicting points in the complainant’s testimony, like her statement to Hanover Police chief Frank Moran about her use of social media after the alleged assault and her “downplay” of her alcohol consumption that night when she spoke with a Dick’s House nurse. Cary showed the jury tweets and Instagram photos posted after the point she said she had stopped using those accounts.
Cary also noted that the complainant said in her testimony that she told Dick’s House nurses that she felt pain after the alleged assault. He then showed the nurse’s documents from Dick’s House, which stated that the complainant said she had no pain.
These inconsistencies, Cary said, stemmed from the fact that the complainant was influenced by friends, who encouraged her to go to be examined, and that she was “confused” after drinking that night.
“She was drinking fast,” he said, referring to witness testimony of her alcohol consumption that night, which included shots of vodka and games of flip cup with beer.
Cary called the alleged victim’s claim of a sneak attack “absurd,” saying that Gilbert made eye contact with the complainant’s roommate when he entered her section of the two-room double.
He added that examinations at Dick’s House showed no evidence of tearing or bruising.
“This case is filled with reasonable doubt,” he said. “Gilbert is an innocent person. This story doesn’t make sense.”
During the state’s rebuttal, assistant county prosecutor Paul Fitzgerald said that the complainant had no motive to fabricate the story. The complainant realized, he said, that “if you make a false report, your time at Dartmouth is over.”
He said that she felt Dartmouth was her home so did not lock her door. The complainant “went to bed thinking she was safe,” only to wake up in the early morning of May 2 and find Gilbert raping her.
“The defendant went in, sneaked in, uninvited to [the alleged victim’s] room and sexually assaulted her and sodomized her,” Fitzgerald said.
He emphasized the trauma experienced by the complainant, saying that she did not sleep in her room following the alleged assault, and that she had spoken in detail about the event during her examinations, in the courtroom and with the prosecution.
Fitzgerald called the social media posts presented by the defense irrelevant.
“That has nothing to do with what happened to her,” he said.
The complainant, Fitzgerald said, did not give consent, and said “no.” He said that she fell to the ground at one point, and Gilbert told her to get back in the bed, and also used physical force against her.
“Whatever she says about ‘no,’ it’s not registering,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s not done yet.”
Fitzgerald repeated the roommate’s statement that she heard the complainant say, “Don’t push me.” He said that Gilbert acted knowingly “every step of the way,” from not knocking on the door to sneaking in the complainant’s room.
He told the jury that the complainant was “terrified” and vomited at the sight of Gilbert when she saw him outside Psi Upsilon fraternity a day after the alleged assault.
He pointed to Gilbert’s May 4 email to the complainant, in which he said he must have acted “inappropriately” and that intoxication was “no excuse,” as evidence of his awareness of his actions the night of the alleged assault.
Gilbert realized, Fitzgerald said, that he needed to “reach out and try to shut her up.”
“If there’s anything I can do,” Gilbert had written, “please let me know.”
“He sent the email because he didn’t want to face her,” Fitzgerald said.
Cary and Fitzgerald spoke for about 45 minutes each Wednesday. The jury reconvenes at 9 a.m. today.
Editor’s note (June 15, 2014): Gilbert was acquitted of all charges on March 27, 2014. For a full story, click here.