Jury gets case in West Ch­ester rape trial

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com Staff Writer

WEST CH­ESTER >> The jury hear­ing the trial of a Get­tys­burg man ac­cused of rap­ing a West Ch­ester Univer­sity stu­dent while she slept be­gan de­lib­er­a­tions in the case Thurs­day.

The panel of nine women and three men were handed the case by Com­mon Pleas Judge Pa­trick Car­mody around 6 p.m. af­ter lis­ten­ing to clos­ing ar­gu­ments and sev­eral hours worth of de­fense tes­ti­mony on the fourth day of the trial. No de­ci­sion was re­ported at press time.

What they did not hear was the de­fen­dant’s side of the story. At the start of the day but out of the jury’s pres­ence, Tyler Ho­gan Lampe told Car­mody that he had con­sid­ered tak­ing the stand tell the jury his ver­sion of events the night of the in­ci­dent, but had de­cided “to con­tinue to not tes­tify.”

When Car­mody asked Lampe and his lead at­tor­ney, Arthur Donato of Me­dia, whether the de­ci­sion to give up that right was made know­ingly, vol­un­tar­ily, and in­tel­li­gently, the two said it was. “We’ve had a lot of con­ver­sa­tions with Tyler and his fam­ily,” Donato said. “It was a very thor­ough dis­cus­sion.”

Lampe, 22, of Get­tys­burg, is charged with rape of an un­con­scious per­son and sex­ual as­sault, both felonies, in­de­cent as­sault, and ag­gra­vated in­de­cent as­sault. He has been free on bail since his ar­rest in July 2016, four months af­ter the al­leged as­sault. A for­mer mem­ber of the West Point Black Knights foot­ball team at the U.S. Mil­i­tary Acad­emy, he is cur­rently on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave from the pres­ti­gious school.

Car­mody on Thurs­day dis­missed an ad­di­tional charge of rape by forcible com­pul­sion at the re­quest of the de­fense team, agree­ing that be­cause the woman was al­legedly asleep dur­ing the in­ci­dent there was in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to show that Lampe used

force in hav­ing sex with her.

His at­tor­neys have con­tended that what oc­curred be­tween him and the woman was con­sen­sual sex be­tween two in­tox­i­cated young peo­ple, and have sug­gested that the woman might have been too ine­bri­ated to re­mem­ber con­sent­ing to be with Lampe.

Ad­dress­ing the jury, Donato said that the case boiled down to the “hazy mem­ory” of the woman, a Malvern na­tive who was a sopho­more at the univer­sity that spring, and “drunken sex” be­tween two young peo­ple af­ter a night of par­ty­ing.

“None of these kids are ly­ing,” Donato said, re­fer­ring to the woman, her two room­mates, and two friends of Lampe’s called to tes­tify about what happened that night. “They’re just kids. But none of them are re­ally sure.”

Donato, who rep­re­sented Lampe along with at­tor­neys Caro­line Donato and Peter Kratsa of the firm of MacEl­ree Har­vey in West Ch­ester, said the jury should find his client not guilty be­cause the ev­i­dence against him was sketchy and weak and did not meet the stan­dard of proof. He re­minded them that the woman had given an in­com­plete ver­sion of events that night, and could eas­ily have been “blacked out” dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

“We will never know what happened in that room,” he said. “But it is not fair to con­vict some­one just be­cause you feel sym­pa­thy or em­pa­thy for one per­son or an­other. You can’t guess. Be­cause if you guess wrong, you are go­ing to con­vict an in­no­cent per­son.”

But First As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Michael Noone, who pros­e­cuted the case with As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Alexis Shaw and West Ch­ester De­tec­tive Stan Bil­lie, ar­gued that the woman’s ver­sion of events had been cor­rob­o­rated on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions by mul­ti­ple sources. She could re­mem­ber sig­nif­i­cant por­tions of what happened the night in ques­tion, and promptly told peo­ple around her that “some­thing bad” had happened to her while she slept.

Noone praised the woman for show­ing “courage and strength” in com­ing for­ward with the al­le­ga­tions, and for un­der­go­ing the “trauma” of the trial.

“There is not a shred of ev­i­dence to show that this is con­sen­sual sex,” he told the ju­rors in his clos­ing. “He did it. We’ve proven our case. He’s got to be held re­spon­si­ble.”

Noone pointed es­pe­cially to a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the two that was tape recorded by Bil­lie a month or so af­ter St. Pa­trick’s Day, dur­ing which he apol­o­gized sev­eral times for what happened the night but in­sisted he could not re­mem­ber any de­tails,

“If there was no way he raped her, I sub­mit he would have said, ‘No, I didn’t rape you. But that’s not what we heard. But when he was un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol, there were things he did that he wouldn’t do when he was sober, and that he would be sorry for later on. That is what rape looks like in Amer­ica.”

The woman re­ported to po­lice that she had gone to sleep in her room on the third floor of an apart­ment house on South High Street some­time af­ter 1 a.m. the morn­ing af­ter St. Pa­trick’s Day in 2016, in­tox­i­cated af­ter a night of drink­ing at her home and a fra­ter­nity party near the WCU campus. She had not taken off her clothes be­fore col­laps­ing in bed, she said but awoke naked and with Lampe on top of her, hav­ing sex. The two had met only hour be­fore, as he was in town from West Point vis­it­ing one of her room­mates from Get­tys­burg.

The Daily Lo­cal News is with­hold­ing the name of the woman be­cause of the na­ture of the charges. The news­pa­per does not iden­tify those who claim to have been sex­u­ally as­saulted un­less they give their per­mis­sion.

On Thurs­day, the de­fense called 16 wit­nesses on Lampe’s be­half, 12 of them char­ac­ter wit­nesses who know him and vouched for his rep­u­ta­tion for peace­ful­ness, law abid­ing, and good moral char­ac­ter. The group in­cluded his par­ents, Jef­frey and Deb­o­rah Lampe, as well as peo­ple from his home­town of Get­tys­burg and some mil­i­tary per­son­nel, be­fit­ting his sta­tus as a West Point cadet.

All agreed, how­ever, that none of them were present in the bed­room of the woman who has said she was sex­u­ally as­saulted over the St. Pa­trick’s Day evening in 2016.

The liveli­est tes­ti­mony Thurs­day came from a child­hood friend of Lampe, who dis­puted the tes­ti­mony of one of the woman’s room­mates, Nora Hughes, about a con­ver­sa­tion af­ter Lampe was in­ter­rupted while he was hav­ing sex with her.

Kobi Wansel, who said he had known Lampe since the fifth grade, said that in the early morn­ing hours of March 18, 2016, he re­ceived a Facetime call from their mu­tual friend, Jake My­ers, who was pan­ick­ing and anx­ious.

“He was, like, Kobe, Nora is ac­cus­ing Tyler of rape,” Wansel said un­der ques­tion­ing by at­tor­ney Caro­line Donato. “She was putting it into … Jake’s head. But Jake said, ‘No, I don’t think that.’”

The de­fense has sug­gested that Hughes in­sti­gated the no­tion of a sex­ual as­sault, and ul­ti­mately con­vinced the woman — who had said she did not re­mem­ber much of what oc­curred af­ter she went to sleep that night — that she had been raped.

Hughes tes­ti­fied ear­lier that she re­mem­bered My­ers mak­ing the Facetime call, and telling his friend Wansel, “Tyler just raped (the woman).” In his tes­ti­mony, Wansel dis­puted that, and hear­ing My­ers say that Hughes was mak­ing the ac­cu­sa­tion, “is some­thing that has stuck with me over the last two years.”

The de­fense also called a foren­sic DNA ex­pert, Kather­ine Cross of Guardian Foren­sic Sciences of Abing­ton, and Eliot Atkins, a foren­sic psy­chol­o­gist.

Atkins was called to tes­tify about the pos­si­bil­ity that the woman could have “blacked out” from overuse of al­co­hol that night. If so, she could have given Lampe sig­nals when he came into her room in­di­cat­ing hat she wanted to have sex with him, but would have been un­able to re­mem­ber do­ing so. That would mit­i­gate any in­tent to rape on Lampe’s part.

But Noone, in cross ex­am­in­ing Atkins, noted that there was no ev­i­dence that the woman had “blacked out,” mak­ing Atkins’ the­ory a hy­po­thet­i­cal. The woman tes­ti­fied that she re­mem­bered what had oc­curred that night, un­like other times when she had too much to drink and had blacked out en­tire nights.

Tyler Ho­gan Lampe

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