NBA star Derrick Rose took the stand Friday, denying allegations that he and two friends raped a former girlfriend.
Rose, a player for the New York Knicks, and the two other men are being sued in federal civil court by a woman who claims that they drugged her while she was drunk and later sneaked into her apartment to have sex with her while she was incapacitated. The plaintiff has asked to be awarded $21 million.
The men have not been charged criminally in the case. Los Angeles police officials have said they are continuing to investigate the 2013 incident, which the woman reported in 2015.
Rose, 28, was called to testify by his accuser’s attorney in the afternoon and answered questions for several hours until U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald ended testimony for the day. Rose will continue his testimony Tuesday when the trial resumes. The other two defendants, Randall Hampton and Ryan Allen, childhood friends of Rose’s whom he now employs, are expected to testify later.
Offering terse, often one-word responses, Rose gave an account of the early morning hours of Aug. 27, 2013, that differed dramatically from the one the plaintiff gave in testimony earlier in the week.
The Times generally does not name people who allege they are the victims of sexual assault.
Contradicting the woman’s claim that she became severely intoxicated and “blacked out” while drinking with the three men the evening before the alleged rape, Rose said the woman appeared lucid at the Beverly Hills house he was renting. He described how the woman, whom he had dated casually for two years, made repeated sexual advances toward him and eventually initiated sex with Hampton and him.
Several hours later, when the woman had gone home, Rose claimed she agreed to have the three men come to her apartment, let them in and willingly had sex with each of them in turn.
The woman testified that she believes the men slipped an unnamed drug into one of her drinks and that she as only “flashes” of memory of what occurred at Rose’s house and in her apartment. She told jurors that she passed out in her bed and awoke to find the men in her room having sex with her.
The woman’s attorney, Waukeen McCoy, pressed Rose on the question of whether the woman had ever indicated a desire to have sex with the three men and if she had given them her consent.
He had Rose review dozens of text messages he exchanged with the woman in the hours leading up to the alleged rape — messages she said she had no recollection of sending because she was so intoxicated — and asked if she indicated in any of them a wish for sex with the three men.
Rose said she made no such indication, but that it was clear to him and the other men that based on her behavior earlier in the evening, the sexual nature of their relationship, and suggestive messages she had sent throughout the day, the woman was aware they were coming to her apartment with the intent of having sex.
McCoy asked if Rose had any remorse for the incident. Responding with a practiced line he has used before in media interviews, Rose said, “Yes, I am sensitive to it … but I don’t feel like I did anything wrong.”
Because the woman did not seek medical attention or go to the police immediately after the incident, there is no physical evidence to support her claims. As such, the case will hinge largely on whom the six women and two men on the jury find more credible.
Also important will be how the jury interprets the text messages that were exchanged in the run-up and aftermath of the alleged assault. Each side has tried to use the exchanges selectively as proof of their account. McCoy has said they show the woman was unaware the men were coming over and had no intent to have sex with them, while Mark Baute and Michael Monico, attorneys for the three men, have said they demonstrate that the woman was coherent and a willing partner.
After the jury had departed for the day, Baute, in a surprise move, asked Fitzgerald to declare a mistrial, accusing McCoy of withholding from the defense a text message the woman allegedly sent to Rose before the alleged rape that bolstered the men’s claim of what occurred.
Fitzgerald refused to declare a mistrial but said he would take up Baute’s allegation Tuesday morning before the trial resumes. The judge also denied a request by Baute to postpone the rest of Rose’s testimony so that he could play in a preseason game in New York on Monday and not have to rush back to Los Angeles for trial on Tuesday.
After emerging as one of the league’s most dominant guards during several years with the Chicago Bulls, Rose was traded this year to the Knicks and is looking to bolster a career hampered by a string of serious injuries that sidelined him for long stretches.
For more news on federal courts in Southern California, follow me on Twitter: @joelrubin