By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO, firstname.lastname@example.org
Former University of Maryland basketball player Damonte Dodd was found not guilty on all four counts of rape and sexual assault charges in a 2017 Halloween incident in College Park. The three day trial included testimony from Dodd and the accuser, who admitted on the opening day that she had been drinking and used cocaine before they met at a local establishment.
Dodd, who plays professional basketball in Poland, repeatedly stated that the sex was consensual. Prior to closing arguements and deliberations Dodd testified he told the accuser he already graduated and that he was staying at a friend’s apartment that night where the alleged incident occcurred.
The jury delibertated for less than three hours before returning the not guilty verdicts on second-degree rape and assault, along with third and fourth-degree sexual offenses. Prosecutors faced an enormous challenge convincing the jury to convict after reasonable doubt was seemingly established when the accuser admitted she was intoxicated and had been using illegal drugs when she testified on the first day of the trial.
“While we have successfully prosecuted many cases involving sexual assault, they are the most challenging,” Prince George’s County state’s attorney Aisha Braveboy said in a statement. “However, we have the courage to take them on because we believe our victims. We will continue to seek justice on behalf of all victims.”
The accuser testified on the first day of the trial she met the former Terps basketball star through one of his friends at the Terrapin’s Turf bar where Dodd had connections with the bartender for free drinks. She also said that at the end of the evening that she wanted to get pizza when they left the bar, but Dodd said they could eat if they went to a friend’s dormitory room on Terrapin Row.
However, on day two of the trial, the state brought the accuser and four more witnesses to testify, but that is when the inconsistencies in their stories began surfacing. Several past and present students began contradicting accounts of the accuser under oath in Prince George’s County Circuit Court.
The accuser claimed Dodd took advantage of her at the apartment
while she was drunk and after she had been vomiting. She also reportedly said she did not remember walking to the apartment. The accuser went to lay down on the couch after Dodd’s suggestion. Dodd then began to kiss and touch the woman, she asserted.
However Jared Ungar, who also was a resident of the Terrapin Row apartments and a friend of Dodd’s testified that he approached the accuser at the bar and introduced her to Dodd. However, Ungar said after he and Dodd arrived at Terrapin’s Turf, two women — the accuser and her friend — approached Dodd.
Peter Johnson, who lived in the apartment and is a friend of Dodd’s also testified on the second day of the trial. Johnson said he found Dodd and the accuser in his bedroom. The woman was laying on her back on the bed, fully clothed, as Dodd sat on the side looking at his phone. Johnson remembered he was “annoyed” and asked them to leave.
Thomas Mooney, Dodd’s attorney, asked his client about his interview with detectives on November 14, 2017. Mooney referred to a form that detectives gave Dodd before he was questioned, which asked if he wanted to make a statement to detectives without a lawyer. Dodd didn’t check either box indicating yes or no to the question, nor had he signed or initialed next to it because he was “confused.” Nonetheless detectives continued questioning him anyway, he testified.