7 Details From the Derrick Rose Rape Case Jury is Set
Today marks the start of Derrick Rose’s rape trial. He is facing a $21.5 million lawsuit filed by an anonymous plaintiff over four-year-old sexual assault allegations. The courtroom has been all but quiet in the weeks leading up to trial, churning out important rulings and considering the emergence of new evidentiary findings, many of which will prove to be influential at trial.
On the heels of our article breaking down the case last week, here are seven important developments that you should know about as the trial begins.
1. Rose appears at Knicks preseason press conference, says he is “not worried” with the trial.
Date: September 26, 2016
Why this is disturbing: Derrick’s focus on his game suggests a cavalier attitude towards sexual assault and a lack of sympathy for the victim. It’s not only insensitive, but could have further implications if the jury believes Jane Doe’s story.
On September 26 at the Knicks’ preseason press conference when asked about the case, Rose claimed, “I am not worried about it.” In a similar line of questioning, Phil Jackson went even further, characterizing Rose as “not overly concerned and not losing sleep.” Rose deflected further questions in this vein, essentially pleading ignorance of “the system” and noting that while he hears about the trial in his “meetings,” his main concern remains basketball.
2. Rose introduced a declaration from Doe’s friend claiming she consented to sex with Rose, Allen, and Hampton.
Date: September 28, 2016
Why this is disturbing: Someone close to Doe claims she plainly denied having been raped and her description of Doe’s attitude pretty directly undermines all of Doe’s claims.
Considered by some on Rose’s side to be a smoking gun in the case, just days before trial Rose’s defense team submitted a new declaration from a friend of Doe who once traveled to Chicago with her to visit Rose. In the declaration, Gabriela Chavez claims that she was with Doe partying in Vegas just weeks after the assault where she bluntly asked Doe if Rose had raped her. Doe said no, but admitted that she did sleep with all three men.
Doe, in her original complaint, stated that Gabriela Chavez is a sex therapist who traveled with her to Chicago “to help [her] become more comfortable with sex and especially oral sex as Rose had requested but never received oral sex from [her].” Chavez characterized their relationship differently, stating that she considered the plaintiff to be a “party friend” who often dates athletes and celebrities and is more familiar than her with the party scene and also with ecstasy.
This particular testimony seems like a game changer, but don’t forget that Doe has submitted competing declarations, including one from a coworker who stated that at work the day after the incident, Doe had told her she had been raped by Rose and his friends.
3. Judge does not find the “pending investigation” letter from the LAPD convincing.
Date: September 30, 2016
Why this is disturbing: The investigation letter was floated to the press by Doe’s legal team to elicit a response from the public, but if the judge doesn’t find it meaningful, the strategy seems disingenuous on their part.
Last week Jane Doe introduced a letter from the LAPD into evidence and also released the letter to the press. The letter noted the existence of a “pending criminal investigation” (but notably, not “pending charges”) which set off a wave of chatter on the internet. Doe presented the letter on the premise that it would support her request to reconsider the judge’s decision to reveal her name at trial. According to Rose, the letter is without consequence, and it introduces nothing new to either party. He again emphasized the fact that the accuser waited two and a half years to approach the police about the crime, and that the investigation since then “has gone nowhere.”
In his pretrial hearing on September 30, the Judge admonished the letter, stating that it would never be admissible at trial and that it was likely presented by the plaintiff to influence settlement. The importance of this letter still should not be ignored: It does mean that Rose has not yet completely dodged the possibility of a criminal case.
4. Judge confirms that the victim’s name will be made public at trial.
Date: September 30, 2016
Why this is disturbing: The ruling opens the door for Jane Doe to be harassed and publicly shamed by Rose’s fans and allies, and could conceivably discourage other rape victims from coming forward in the future.
Since the inception of this lawsuit, Rose and his accuser have sparred on this point. The judge declined Jane Doe’s recent request to revisit an earlier ruling, concluding that Rose’s right to have a public trial overrides the victim’s right to confidentiality at trial. In support of her request to remain anonymous, Doe pointed to the open LAPD investigation and online harassment she has already been subjected to. The judge acknowledged Doe’s need to proceed under a pseudonym, but did not find that recent developments undermined Rose and the public’s interest in disclosure. The judge also instructed Rose’s attorneys to keep the victim’s name under wraps, leaving it to the press in the courtroom to decide how to refer to Doe.
We discussed this issue in depth in our earlier wrap up of this case. Doe has been steadfast in her pursuit of anonymity, noting that even her own parents do not know she has filed the case. Some have suggested that the certainty of her identity being made public may incite her to settle, while others regard it as a gross injustice to victims of sexual assault.
5. Judge issues a temporary gag order prior to trial, ordering both sides to keep quiet.
Date: September 30, 2016
Why this is disturbing: Both sides were so egregious in their public quest to shame each other that the judge was forced to get involved.
In the weeks leading up to trial, both sides have engaged in an arms race with the press, attempting to elicit public opinion in their favor. The judge has expressed irritation with the implications of a press circus surrounding his courtroom, stating “I am really fed up with both of you.” In particular, Doe’s lawyers have been chastised by the court for “borderline unethical” behavior, while Rose’s lawyers were admonished for using Doe’s real name in open court before trial and threatened with sanctions if they continued “to utilize language that shames and blames the victims of rape.”
On September 30, the judge issued an order prohibiting both sides from making any statements to the press about (1) the character, credibility, or reputation of a party; (2) the strengths or weaknesses of either side’s case; (3) any potentially inadmissible evidence that could sway public opinion, or (4) Jane Doe’s true identity.
6. Judge issues limit on parties’ testimony in an attempt to keep the trial on course.
Date: September 30, 2016
Why this is disturbing: Usually, judges refrain from limiting a plaintiff’s day in court in this manner. Again, the judge is forced to step in to limit the parties’ flagrant behavior.
In an attempt to avoid a never-ending mud slinging contest, the judge has decided that he will limit the parties’ testimony and cross examination to 16 hrs per side. This does not include extra time allotted for jury selection, opening or closing arguments, or jury instruction. This does mean that the trial will be shorter than expected, and we can expect to see an end to the proceedings within about 7 business days.
7. Judge rules that evidence of Doe’s “prior relationships and sexual dispositions” will be allowed in court.
Date: October 3, 2016
Why this is disturbing: Along with her identity, including this type of evidence in a high profile case can embarrass the victim and open her up to harassment from fans and allies.
A day before the trial is scheduled to begin, the judge agreed with Rose’s contention that Doe “voluntarily injected issues about her sexual behavior into the case,” so Rose should be able to negate these issues with evidence of his own. While much of this evidence is under seal, we know that it includes testimony regarding Doe’s relationships with other NBA players and a failed pregnancy prior to the incident.
Rose will also be allowed to introduce evidence regarding her lifestyle choices, her “party girl” nature, and texts which he contends demonstrate her financial motivations for filing the lawsuit. He will be able to use five of the 34 images he wanted to reveal depicting Doe partying in Las Vegas weeks after the alleged assault.
Notably, these pretrial rulings have heavily skewed in favor of Rose, the consequence of which could sway the course of trial in his favor or impact the potential for settlement before closing arguments. We’ll be watching this case closely, so come back to Complex for updates throughout the course of the trial.