Jury clears Knicks’ Rose, friends in law­suit

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Brian Mel­ley

NBA star Der­rick Rose and two friends were cleared Wed­nes­day in a $21.5 mil­lion law­suit that ac­cused them of gang rap­ing his ex-girl­friend when she was in­ca­pac­i­tated from drugs or al­co­hol.

Ju­rors cleared NBA star Der­rick Rose and two friends Wed­nes­day in a law­suit that ac­cused them of gang rap­ing his ex-girl­friend when she was in­ca­pac­i­tated from drugs or al­co­hol.

The jury reached the ver­dict in fed­eral court in Los An­ge­les after hear­ing dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent ac­counts of the Au­gust 2013 sex­ual en­counter.

Rose says he’s thank­ful that the jury re­jected the law­suit.

He said in a state­ment to The As­so­ci­ated Press that it was im­por­tant to prove he did not do what he was ac­cused of, even though he had to share pri­vate de­tails of his per­sonal life.

“I am thank­ful that the jury un­der­stood and agreed with me,” his state­ment said. “This ex­pe­ri­ence and my sen­si­tiv­ity to it was deep. I am ready to put this be­hind me and fo­cus on my fam­ily and ca­reer.”

Ju­rors later posed for pho­to­graphs with Rose one at a time in the court­house lobby.

One of the two men among the eight ju­rors who iden­ti­fied him­self only by his first name and age, Jared, 25, said the panel tried to look at the case in the plain­tiff’s fa­vor but in the end could not be­lieve her and felt her tears were not gen­uine.

“It felt like she was play­ing us,” he said.

Nei­ther side de­nied the three men had sex with the wo­man, but the is­sue was whether she con­sented or was too in­tox­i­cated to do so.

De­fense lawyers tarred the wo­man as a liar who tried to sway ju­rors through her tears to get at Rose’s for­tune. They claimed she was an­gry he had dumped her and she set him up and brought the law­suit in hopes of a big pay­off.

The wo­man’s lawyer called the men “sex­ual de­viants” and says they con­spired to gang rape her after she was drunk and in­ca­pable of con­sent­ing to sex.

Rose was in court, look­ing down as the ver­dict was read.

As soon as the first ques­tion was an­swered by the jury, his at­tor­ney got up and shook the hand of each of the three de­fen­dants.

“All three men were in­no­cent from Day 1,” Rose’s at­tor­ney, Mark Baute, said. “We’re very happy that the sys­tem worked.”

The wo­man’s at­tor­ney, Wau­keen McCoy, said he will ex­plore ap­peal op­tions.

“I think it’s a shame for women, for this coun­try that a celebrity can come into court and slut-shame a wo­man like my client,” McCoy said.

Though the ac­cuser’s re­ac­tion could not be seen as the ver­dict was read, McCoy said she was dev­as­tated and did not un­der­stand how ju­rors could reach their con­clu­sion.

The wo­man, who be­came emo­tional and trem­bled while tes­ti­fy­ing, had sought $21.5 mil­lion when she filed suit, but her at­tor­ney did not put a price on the case Tues­day dur­ing clos­ing ar­gu­ments, say­ing it was up to the jury.

Rose’s lawyer said the fu­ture of the Knicks point guard and his whole fam­ily was at stake be­cause of a morals clause in his player con­tract and an en­dorse­ment deal with Adi­das.

Baute urged ju­rors to rec­og­nize the suit as a “hoax and a joke” and not even award $20 be­cause that could de­stroy Rose’s ca­reer and trig­ger fi­nan­cial ruin for the star and the ex­tended fam­ily and friends he had pulled out of poverty from Chicago’s south side with his tal­ent on the court.

Lawyers sparred for nearly three hours dur­ing the bit­ter clos­ing ar­gu­ments.

The wo­man’s lawyer said the 30-year-old col­lege stu­dent was not a gold dig­ger and was seek­ing ac­count­abil­ity for what was morally and legally wrong.

He said the men had never apol­o­gized or shown any re­morse and said their be­hav­ior was rep­re­hen­si­ble enough to trig­ger puni­tive dam­ages be­yond any com­pen­sa­tion.

“The three men laughed their way home,” at­tor­ney McCoy said.

The de­fense por­trayed Rose and his child­hood pals, Ryan Allen and Ran­dall Hamp­ton, who both work for him, as vic­tims in the case and the lawyers mocked the wo­man’s lies and de­meanor on the wit­ness stand.

“This wo­man has tried to trick peo­ple through much of her life, men es­pe­cially,” at­tor­ney Michael Mon­ico said. “Who is she try­ing to trick in this court­room, ladies and gen­tle­men? You. She doesn’t have any ev­i­dence, but she can cry.”

The As­so­ci­ated Press does not gen­er­ally name peo­ple who say they are vic­tims of sex crimes.

Rose, 28, was traded to New York this year after spend­ing seven sea­sons in his na­tive Chicago, where he won Rookie of the Year hon­ors with the Bulls and was the youngest player to be awarded MVP in 2011.

He has been plagued with knee in­juries the past few sea­sons and is in the fi­nal year of a five-year deal that will pay him $21.3 mil­lion.

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