UM dean: Alleged rape victim sobbed in her arms

2013-02-20T08:04:00Z 2014-08-25T07:48:22Z UM dean: Alleged rape victim sobbed in her armsBy GWEN FLORIO Missoulian The Billings Gazette
February 20, 2013 8:04 am  • 

MISSOULA — A University of Montana dean choked up on the witness stand Wednesday as she described a meeting with a student who had told her earlier that she had been raped by Grizzlies quarterback Jordan Johnson.

The woman, according to Lori Morin, assistant dean of student affairs at the School of Pharmacy, said she had just seen Johnson on campus for the first time since Feb. 4, 2012, which is when she says he raped her as the two watched a movie at her home.

Johnson is on trial in Missoula County District Court on a charge of sexual intercourse without consent, which carries a maximum penalty of 100 years or life in prison.

Morin said the woman told her about the incident on Feb. 6, then asked to see her about a month later.

"She was an absolute wreck. She was absolutely terrified. She had just seen Jordan for the first time since that night. She was just sobbing uncontrollably. She hugged onto me and would not let go. She was just so scared," Morin said, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue.

Was it possible, Assistant Attorney General Joel Thompson asked Morin, that the woman was feigning her fear?

"No one can just fake what she was experiencing," Morin said, adding that "my family will tell you I'm not a crier. But I can't think about that event without being overcome with emotion. I've never seen a person so terrified."

Morin also testified that when the woman's friends came to her, seeking her support in urging the woman to report the incident, she refused, telling them that it was the woman's choice and hers alone as to how she wanted to proceed.

Earlier Wednesday, the prosecution called some of the woman's friends and former roommates to the stand, asking them about her demeanor after the incident and also quizzing them as to whether she appeared to enjoy the attention that came her way as a result of her accusation.

The latter questions were designed to address a defense contention that the woman reveled in her role as a victim after the allegations against Johnson became public.

On cross-examination, all were asked about the "multiple, multiple" (defense attorney David Paoli's phrase) or "many, many" (defense attorney Kirsten Pabst's words) people the woman told about the alleged incident.

Defense attorneys also asked some of the woman's friends about photos she'd posted on Facebook in the weeks after the incident in which she appeared to be partying or otherwise having a good time.

Yes, friend Kelsie Hanson told Paoli, about a month after the incident the woman posted a photo on Facebook of a T-shirt worn by some pharmacy students that said "Staying Up Late With a Pharmacist." Hanson told Paoli she'd encouraged her friend not to post the photo.

"The T-shirt was a joke," she said, adding that her friend wasn't wearing it in the photo.

Hanson, along with Neil Sauer, Lillian Kendall and Kelsey McCall, all of whom shared a home or dorm suite with the woman at different times, all described her as being noticeably withdrawn in the days and weeks after the incident.

McCall described the woman she'd first befriended as "a very bubbly and happy person." But after the incident, she testified, the woman lost "her spark, her inner glow."

What if you were told the woman was portrayed as enjoying the publicity, that it's been "fun," Assistant Chief Deputy County Attorney Suzy Boylan asked Kendall.

"I think that's crazy. It hasn't at all been fun for her," Kendall said.

When cross-examined by Pabst, Kendall agreed she'd been at least as emotional as the woman, if not more, when the two would discuss the incident.

Sauer, the woman's housemate at the time of the incident, testified about being asleep in his room when it happened, and about finding out about it a few days later after coming home to a darkened house, with the woman crying and talking to their other housemate.

Thompson asked Sauer to compare those tears to the ones the woman shed during a breakup with a boyfriend the previous fall.

The crying after the incident, Sauer said, "was much deeper, very deep, very somber. Pretty much like a death-in-the-family sort of deal."

Sauer said he also didn't know who Johnson was, asking his other housemate, "Who the f--- is Jordan Johnson?"

Later, Pabst cross-examined him about his testimony concerning a private investigator, hired by Paoli, who came to the house some time after the incident and questioned the woman's housemates about it.

"He was polite?" Pabst asked.

"Ahhh, he was all right," Sauer said.

"He was professional?"

"He wasn't as professional as I would have been."

"Well, he didn't use the F-word or other profanity, did he?"

"No."

Among the spectators in the courtroom Wednesday morning were former UM vice president Jim Foley and former athletic director Jim O'Day, both of whom were removed from those positions at the university last year in the midst of federal and internal investigations into UM's handling of sexual-assault cases.

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