-

The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

-

archive

Players testify in Elam trial

MEGHANNE DOWNES & SCOTT BRODFUEHRER | Friday, August 29, 2003

The three former Notre Dame football players charged with raping a Notre Dame student in March 2002 testified Thursday at the trial of former teammate Abram Elam.

Lorenzo Crawford, Donald Dykes and Justin Smith testified they had sexual intercourse with and watched each other engage in other sexual acts with the woman on several occasions the morning of March 28, 2002.

Elam is charged with conspiracy to commit rape, sexual deviate conduct and sexual battery. The other three former football players, whose trials are scheduled to begin over the next three months, face the same charges in addition to a felony rape charge.

The three former players maintained the acts that occurred nearly a year and a half ago were consensual and said the woman never resisted them. They admitted to participating in multiple simultaneous sexual acts involving the woman and the former football players.

Crawford said at one point the woman gestured for him to come to her and invited Dykes to enter the room as well. And Dykes testified that after he had sex with the woman, she said, “You guys wore me out and gave me a workout.”

Dykes also said that after the woman told Elam to back away, saying, “No, you have a girlfriend,” Dykes checked to make sure the woman was “cool with this.” When she responded affirmatively, Dykes testified he had sex with her.

The woman testified earlier in the trial the sexual acts were not consensual.

However, two of the former players who testified each offered slightly conflicting accounts of what happened.

Both Smith and Crawford said Elam approached the woman at least once. But Smith said Elam approached the woman naked and tried to have sex before leaving the room, while Crawford said he did not remember Elam being naked or attempting to have sex.

Earlier Thursday morning, the lead police investigator said Smith’s roommate, who had a room adjacent to the bedroom where the incident allegedly occurred, told him he did not hear any screaming the night of the incident.

“He told me he heard nothing at all, other than the floor creaking,” St. Joseph County Police Detective Steve Metcalfe said.

Metcalfe pointed out a discrepancy in the woman’s testimony. The woman testified she went to a bathroom to remove a tampon after she was initially locked in a bedroom but before most of the sexual activity allegedly occurred, a fact that made Metcalfe “angered and upset” because he didn’t know about it until it was revealed in court.

Metcalfe also testified that a search warrant uncovered a copy of the woman’s statement to Notre Dame officials at Smith’s house.Special prosecutor Maureen Devlin said advance knowledge of the victim’s claims could have allowed Smith to destroy physical evidence mentioned in the account.

But University spokesman Matt Storin said giving the alleged victim’s statement to school officials is a normal part of the campus disciplinary process.

“We only give the statement to law enforcement if a subpoena is issued, although the victim could give the statement to law enforcement,” Storin said. “Our process is our process. If there had been indictments made during that time, the process would have been halted.”