A woman who says she was raped by an ex-university of Delaware baseball player accused of multiple sexual assaults has told conflicting accounts of their encounter and may have regretted being physically intimate with him, a defense attorney told jurors in closing arguments Thursday.
Texts the woman exchanged with friends before she drove to Clay Conaway’s house last year indicate she was “hungry for sex,” and understood that he wanted to have sex as well, defense attorney Joe Hurley said.
The woman, 21, told friends in text messages that she had advised Conaway, 23, she was not interested in having sex during their first meeting, and that he indicated that he understood. But just hours before driving to his house in June 2018, the woman wondered whether he might want her to perform oral sex.
“How honest was it when she told the police she went over there believing it was just going to be a hangout session and not sexual?” Hurley asked.
“What if … temptation was knocking on the door and she thought she was going to be strong enough to resist it … and she went to a green light mode?” he added.
Hurley also played excerpts from a police interview during which Conaway adamantly and repeatedly denied having sexual intercourse with the woman.
“We never had sex … at all,” Conaway told a detective, acknowledging that he did penetrate the woman with his fingers on more than one occasion and rubbed his genitals against hers.
A forensics expert testified that male DNA was found on vaginal swabs taken from the woman, but there was no evidence of sperm cells.
The encounter came three weeks after the woman and Conaway connected on the online meeting site Bumble and he sent her a nude picture of himself. She is among six women whom Conaway is accused of sexually assaulting between 2013 and 2018.
Conaway is charged in the instant case with first-degree rape, which involves intentional penetration with the genitalia without consent, causing injury. The jury also will be allowed to consider lesser charges of second-degree rape and fourth-degree rape. Second-degree rape involves intentional penetration with the genitalia without consent, while fourth-degree rape involves intentional penetration with any object or body part without consent.
“Intent is critical,” Hurley told the jury, adding that they must determine whether the woman ever expressly indicated to Conaway through her words or actions that she did not consent to what he was doing.
“Is there a red light shining so that he can see it and be aware of it?” he said. “Amber is not good enough.”
Prosecutor Rebecca Anderson argued that the woman’s only mistake was taking Conaway at his word when he indicated “that they would just cuddle and get to know each other.”
“The defendant proceeded with his plan to have sex … that night,” she said. “Ultimately he got his wish.”
Anderson also said the woman, who said she suffered a hip injury during the encounter, also expressed “discomfort and unhappiness” when he began penetrating her with his fingers, before he eventually raped her.
“She told him ‘no.’ She asked him repeatedly, ‘What are you doing?'” Anderson said. “Does that really sound like someone who was into what was happening?”
Jury deliberations begin Friday.