Gilbert ’16 trial: Former teammates, police chief testify

by Marina Shkuratov | 3/21/14 2:59pm

Friday, prosecutors examined evidence collection procedures and the actions of Parker Gilbert ’16, a 21-year-old former Dartmouth student accused of rape, on the night of the alleged assault.

In the fifth day of the trial, the prosecution called nine witnesses to the stand, including four of Gilbert’s former rugby teammates, Hanover Police chief Frank Moran and a fingerprint analysis expert.

Gilbert, of London, was arrested May 15 and is charged with seven counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault against a 19-year-old female undergraduate student. He is also charged with one count of criminal trespass for entering her room uninvited the morning of May 2. If convicted, Gilbert could serve up to 20 years in prison for each count of sexual assault.

Both sides agree that Gilbert entered the complainant’s room on May 2 and that penetrative intercourse occurred, but they disagree about whether it was consensual. As a general practice, The Dartmouth does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

Floormates of the alleged victim have testified this week for the prosecution, speaking to the changed demeanor of the complainant after the alleged assault. The Dartmouth has not identified this witness or other floormates who testified Thursday. A male floormate said he feared for his safety when a “visibly very angry” Gilbert, mistaking the witness’s room for his own, pounded on his door around the time of the alleged assault.

The complainant’s roommate said Thursday that she heard sounds from the alleged victim’s bedroom that she associated with sexual intercourse, including heavy breathing. During the cross-examination, she said that she did not think an assault was occurring on the morning of May 2. The complainant’s roommate is a member of The Dartmouth staff.

A female floormate of the alleged victim, under the influence of alcohol and medication, had slept in the complainant’s bed that night.

On Friday morning, county prosecutor Lara Saffo continued her direct examination of Christopher Banks ’16, Gilbert’s friend and former rugby teammate. On Thursday, Banks confirmed that he and Gilbert had been drinking together on May 1. Friday, Banks testified to Gilbert’s level of intoxication that night and Gilbert’s description of his interaction with the complainant several days after the alleged assault.

On May 1, the complainant interacted with Gilbert briefly at Beta Alpha Omega fraternity, she said in her testimony Tuesday.

Banks said he had a short conversation with the complainant at Beta, and she had seemed happy at the time. The alleged victim did not seem to struggle with her coordination or have difficulty communicating, he said.

He does not recall seeing Gilbert speak to the complainant at any point that night, Banks said, and said that he was not keeping close track of his teammate. Later in the night, Banks said he recalled Gilbert to be “relatively drunk” but could not quantify his level of intoxication. Banks was also intoxicated that night, he said.

The next morning, Banks said he and Gilbert exchanged text messages. Gilbert sent a message reading, “I was wasted.” “I was drunk as shit too,” Banks replied.

Several days after the alleged assault, Banks said he and Gilbert spoke about the complainant. Banks said Gilbert told him that he had seen the alleged victim, who turned and walked away from him. Gilbert seemed confused by her reaction, Banks said.

Banks confirmed that in his statement to Moran, he had said Gilbert told him that the complainant looked “terrified” when she saw him. In his testimony, Banks said Gilbert had not used that specific word.

Gilbert had not told Banks that he had emailed the complainant, Banks said. When Saffo asked if Gilbert had mentioned a “drunken casual hookup” with the complainant, Banks said no.

During his cross-examination by Robert Cary ’86 of Williams and Connolly, Banks confirmed that he had been drinking the night of May 1 and was hung over the morning of May 2.

Next, Saffo questioned William de Chatellus ’16, another of Gilbert’s friends and former rugby teammates. De Chatellus said he, Banks and Gilbert spent time together on the evening of May 1, drinking beer in Gilbert’s room. De Chatellus said he was unsure if the group stopped by other friends’ rooms before going to Beta.

After spending about an hour at Beta, de Chatellus said he and Gilbert began to play beer pong. Gilbert said he wanted to stop and leave about five minutes into the game, de Chatellus said. The witness said it was not necessarily “out of character” for Gilbert to stop the game early, but players do not usually leave before finishing. Immediately after, Gilbert and de Chatellus went to Theta Delta Chi fraternity, the witness said.

De Chatellus said he saw Gilbert at some point between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on May 2. They did not discuss the events of the previous night, the witness said.

During his cross-examination by Cary, de Chatellus confirmed that he did not know how much alcohol Gilbert consumed on May 1.

The prosecution next called Max Hannam ’16, another of Gilbert’s friends and former teammates. Hannam said that on the night of May 1, Banks, de Chatellus and Gilbert came to his room. Hannam, who had been sick, did not consume alcohol, he said. He said he could not recall whether his three friends drank in his room.

Hannam did not know of the complainant before May 1, he said.

Next, the prosecution called Michael Urbach ’14, another member of the rugby team. Urbach said he was at Beta, where he met the complainant, on May 1. She seemed “outgoing” and “flirtatious” when they spoke, he said, though at one point she had walked away and returned crying about her dog. The alleged victim’s parents had told their daughter earlier that evening that her dog needed to be euthanized.

Urbach said he does not remember the complainant slurring her words or having difficulty balancing.

The next day, Urbach said he sent the complainant an email asking to see her again and offering his condolences for her dog, but received no response.

During his cross-examination by defense attorney George Ostler of DesMeules, Olmstead and Ostler, Urbach confirmed that he had consumed four shots of whiskey and several beers while at his fraternity earlier on May 1, then drank more beer at Beta.

Next, Saffo questioned Rebel Roberts, a Safety and Security sergeant. Roberts said she first encountered the complainant when she came to Dick’s House at approximately 2:15 p.m. May 2 to discuss the alleged assault. The alleged victim was with two friends, Roberts said, and all three looked “upset,” “tired” and “withdrawn.” Roberts drove the three students to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

In her cross-examination by Ostler, Roberts confirmed that all three friends looked upset, and that she was initially unsure who was making the complaint.

Next, Saffo called Hanover Police detective Eric Bates, who said he assisted Moran in the investigation. Bates dusted for fingerprints and took pictures and measurements of the complainant’s room on May 15.

During his cross-examination by Ostler, Bates said he did not know who accessed the room in the 13 days between the alleged assault and this part of the investigation. Bates also confirmed that he had helped arrange the room for the March 17 jury viewing. The furniture was arranged to resemble the room’s appearance as detectives found it on May 15, he said.

The prosecution then called Lisa Corson as an expert witness. Corson, who works in the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory, has conducted thousands of fingerprint analyses.

Corson said she examined 27 fingerprints lifted during the May 15 police investigation. Out of the 27 prints, she found only one detailed enough to be eligible for comparison. This fingerprint did not belong to Gilbert, she said.

After a recess for lunch, the prosecution called Suzanne Stebenne, a nurse practitioner who attended to the complainant at Dick’s House on May 2. Stebenne said the complainant had looked “reserved,” “teary” and “fragile.”

Stebenne, who is not trained as a sexual assault nurse examiner, recommended that the complainant go to DHMC so a nurse with this training could examine her. This witness was not cross-examined.

Moran took the stand next and testified that he first met the complainant on the afternoon of May 13, when she reported the alleged assault to Hanover Police.

That day, Moran said he interviewed the complainant for approximately an hour and a half. During the course of their interview, which was recorded, Moran said the alleged victim seemed “distraught,” “pleasant” and “emotional at times.” She seemed to be comfortable speaking and cried during the interview, he said.

In a brief overview of the alleged attack, the complainant made only one reference to yelling, Moran said. In her subsequent in-depth account, the complainant did not say she yelled and told him she did not speak “forcefully,” he said.

Moran said Hanover Police searched Gilbert’s room on May 15, where they found 21 cans of Keystone Light, a few other beers and one bottle of wine.

During an interview with a Safety and Security officer, Moran said he confirmed that the complainant entered her residential hall at 1:38 a.m. on May 2, and that Gilbert entered at 2:26 a.m.

In the days following the complainant’s initial report, Moran interviewed many people, including 29 students who lived near the complainant and Gilbert.

During his cross-examination by Cary, Moran confirmed that the complainant, at the beginning of her interview, said she “kept on yelling ‘stop’” during the alleged assault. He also confirmed that the complainant told him she took three shots of vodka alone in her room that night, that Gilbert had asked her to engage in fellatio on the morning of May 2 and that she went to Dick’s House after a friend’s recommendation.

Court will resume at 9:30 a.m. Monday, when the prosecution will continue its case against Gilbert.

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