Gilbert '16 trial: Defense cross examines complainant, prosecution calls further witnesses

by Marina Shkuratov | 3/19/14 3:24pm

The trial of Parker Gilbert ’16, who is charged with rape, resumed Wednesday morning with a cross-examination of the alleged victim. During the course of the day, the jury heard testimony regarding the events of the night of the alleged assault and the conversations that followed.

The complainant, her mother, a male friend, a female friend and the female friend’s mother took the stand on Wednesday. The Dartmouth has not identified these witnesses to preserve the complainant’s anonymity. As a general practice, The Dartmouth does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

Gilbert, 21, who is no longer enrolled in classes at the College, is charged with seven counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault against the female undergraduate student, 19, and one count of criminal trespass for entering her room uninvited in the early morning of May 2, 2013.

Gilbert, of London, was arrested May 15. If convicted, Gilbert could serve up to 20 years in prison for each count of sexual assault.

During her cross-examination of the alleged victim, defense attorney Cathy Green, of Green and Utter, emphasized that in the female student’s report to Hanover Police chief Frank Moran, she said her roommate might have entered the room during the alleged rape, that Gilbert sounded forceful and angry throughout and that she did not seek help or lock her door immediately afterward.

The female student was on the stand for approximately two and a half hours on Wednesday, with one 10-minute recess.

The female student said she “thankfully” does not remember every detail of the alleged assault, including whether her roommate entered the room. She also said she does not recall the exact content of her later conversations with friends.

“It was blurry, it felt like static,” she said of the alleged attack.

The female student said she thought both she and Gilbert had yelled during the alleged assault, but could not testify to the “exact decibel” of the defendant’s voice.

Green said the female student had told her parents that she did not scream during the alleged attack because Gilbert had put his fingers in her mouth. At the time, the female student said in response, it seemed like her parents were “almost blaming” her for the alleged assault.

Green also said the female student did not mention yesterday that Gilbert had engaged in cunnilingus on the morning of May 2. The female student had told a friend and her nurse at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center this fact, Green said, but did not include it in her statement to Moran or in her testimony.

Green said that the female student had told a friend that Gilbert first got “agitated” when he was unable to ejaculate. The student disagreed and said he had called her names throughout the alleged assault. The witness said she could not remember details of her conversations about this aspect of the alleged assault.

Green said the female student had told her father that she had to “maintain [her] dignity” and was concerned that the alleged assault would lower her friends’ respect for her.

The female student said she was not concerned about her friends’ perceptions but was worried Gilbert would lie about what had happened.

“People speak about any kind of sexual act and they exaggerate things,” she said.

Green said that the female student had told a friend earlier that she was not fully aware of the events of the alleged attack and went to sleep immediately after, in part due to the alcohol she had consumed. The female student agreed that the alcohol could have had an effect.

When the female student spoke with a friend the day after the alleged assault, Green said, the female student had told her friend she was unsure if “this counts as a problem” and that the alleged attack was “probably [her] fault.” The female student agreed that she had made those statements and said she had felt that way at the time.

The female student “deliberately” left out information about her level of alcohol consumption during her examination at DHMC, Green said, saying that the female student did not mention the three shots of vodka she drank before leaving her residential hall the night of the alleged assault. As a result, the nurse had not taken a blood test to reveal the female student’s blood alcohol content level, Green said.

The female student said she had not been purposefully neglectful and that she later provided Moran with accurate information. The student said that she had not known about the possibility of a blood test and that, if she had, “would have insisted upon having it taken anyway.”

Green also questioned the female student’s claim that she was in pain on the day after the alleged attack. When doctors asked about the female student’s condition, Green said, she had said she was not in any physical pain. The female student said she did not remember these conversations.

During the cross-examination, Green mentioned several examples of the female student’s online activity that had occurred immediately after the alleged assault. On a television screen in the courtroom, Green showed that on May 2 the female student had changed her Facebook profile picture to a mug shot of a bearded man.

The female student said she changed her picture to the mug shot after a friend showed her a series of mug shots to cheer her up.

The Friday after the alleged attack, Green said the defendant chose to go out with friends instead of staying in a hotel with her mother, who was visiting the College. The female student said she wanted to be with friends after her mother’s reaction to the alleged assault.

“The way that she had spoken to me about the incident, I didn’t want to be around her just yet,” she said.

The female student said she did not drink much on May 3 and instead participated in a scavenger hunt with her friends, taking photographs with a potato at different fraternities. Green said the group had found the potato at Beta Alpha Omega fraternity on the night of the alleged assault.

Green said that the female student’s family had arranged for her to speak with a private lawyer about the incident.

The female student had texted her mother on May 13 after speaking with the lawyer by phone. The message read, “[the lawyer] really stressed the urgency of talking to the police. The longer I wait, the less beleivable [sic] my claims are. I think I’m going to go to the police today.” The student went to the police within three hours of sending the message, Green said.

The female student said the attorney she spoke with was a family friend.

In his redirect examination of the female student, attorney Paul Fitzgerald asked her about the Twitter and Instagram posts Green raised in the cross-examination, and asked whether she had stopped posting on the sites by the time Moran asked her about them in December. The female student said she had stopped uploading Instagram pictures after October 2013, and had stopped tweeting in March 2013.

Fitzgerald said that Green had mentioned many statements the female student had made to friends, and asked whether the female student had recorded those statements or checked them for accuracy. The female student said she had not and confirmed that she had not memorized the 44-page transcript of her statement to Moran.

Approaching her undergraduate advisor after the assault had not occurred to the female student, she said.

“That wasn’t even in my mind at the time,” she said. “I believe I described how I felt during the whole incident as static in my head. I was focusing on the corner of my bedroom. I was just scared and in pain, and nothing else even popped into my mind.”

The prosecution then called the female student’s mother to the stand. Her daughter, crying, had told her about the alleged assault on the evening of May 2 by phone, she said. The student’s mother came to Dartmouth the next day. She described her daughter, who had been shaking , as “very nervous.”

The female student’s mother said the family reached out to an attorney because they had “no idea what one should do in a situation like this” and were “worried for her safety.”

During the cross-examination, Green asked the female student’s mother whether her daughter had said that Gilbert was “good-looking” and that he might be “boasting” about the night of the alleged assault. The female student’s mother agreed to these statements after reviewing a copy of a transcript of her interview with Moran.

The prosecution then called three further witnesses to provide details about the night of the alleged assault. Two were undergraduates at the College: a male student who drank with the alleged victim on May 1 and a female friend who had spent the night in the alleged victim’s bed. The prosecution also called the mother of the female friend.

The male undergraduate, a floormate of the complainant, said that he consumed alcohol with three female students, including the alleged victim, in her room. He drank approximately three shots of whiskey, he said, but he did not know how much the female students in the room drank.

The male student then went to Beta, where he said he drank no more than three beers while playing flip cup. He was “nicely buzzed,” he said, but not stumbling or vomiting.

The female student later joined him at Beta, he said, and he left with her when she became upset about her dog. Earlier in the night, her parents had told her that they would be euthanizing the dog. After spending time in the female undergraduate’s room, the male student said he returned to his room and went to sleep.

He woke up between 3:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. to a “very heavy pounding” on his door, he said, and found Gilbert, who was “visibly very angry” and intoxicated. The male student said he feared for his safety and considered using a chair to protect himself from Gilbert, who had accused the male student of being in Gilbert’s room, which was located on the floor above. Gilbert then realized he was in the wrong room and left, the male student said.

During cross-examination, the student said he could not estimate the number of games of flip cup he had played but said he was in control of his senses.

The prosecution then called the mother of another friend of the alleged victim, whose daughter allegedly slept through the alleged assault while in the complainant’s bed. The witness said that her daughter frequently sleeps through loud events and once slept through a 10-minute-long fire alarm at the Hanover Inn.

In his cross-examination, attorney Robert Cary ’86, of Williams and Connolly, asked whether sexual activity had occurred at the time of the fire alarm and if the mother had attempted to shake her daughter to wake her. The witness said that there had been no sexual activity and that she had not tried to wake her daughter.

The prosecution then called this witness’s daughter, who was in bed with the female student during the alleged attack. The three students — the witness, the alleged victim and the male student — had walked home together, she said, and none had been sober.

The witness said she takes anxiety medications including Prozac and Ativan. These drugs, she said, have side effects including drowsiness and increased sensitivity to alcohol.

The witness said she had been “shocked” when her friend had told her about the alleged attack and had offered to take her to Dick’s House. Instead, the alleged victim had decided to go to class, she said.

That night and subsequent nights, the female student slept in her friend’s dorm out of fear, the witness said.

Cary asked the witness whether she would describe the alleged victim’s intoxication level as “drunkish” — a word that the witness had used in her statement to the police — or “impaired” before the alleged assault. The witness confirmed these descriptors and said that she did not remember hearing sexual activity.

The witness said she did not remember walking into the other room of the two-room double or talking to the alleged victim before she woke up around 10 a.m. the morning of May 2. Her anxiety medication, the witness said, sometimes induces memory loss. The witness also confirmed that she has experienced blackouts approximately once every two months since she began taking Ativan.

The female student’s friend also confirmed that the morning after the alleged assault, her friend told her that Gilbert had engaged in cunnilingus and that the complainant said she believed her roommate had walked through her room during the alleged attack.

Court will resume at 10 a.m. tomorrow, when the prosecution will call its next witness in the case against Gilbert.

Editor's note (June 15, 2014): Gilbert was acquitted of all charges on March 27, 2014. For a full story, clickhere.