Cadet guilty of rape in West Ch­ester trial

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com

WEST CH­ESTER >> The arc of the life of two promis­ing col­lege stu­dents whose paths crossed on St. Pa­trick’s Day two years ago is a study in tragedy, said those who were in­volved in the crim­i­nal trial that re­sulted in guilty ver­dicts on rape charges over a four-day pe­riod this week.

A Ch­ester County Com­mon Pleas Court jury Thurs­day found Tyler Ho­gan Lampe, a cadet at the U.S. Mil­i­tary Academy at West Point, N.Y., guilty on charges of rape of an un­con­scious per­son, sex­ual as­sault, ag­gra­vated in­de­cent as­sault, and in­de­cent as­sault.

Lampe, 22, of Get­tys­burg, now faces the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing sen­tenced to a term in state pri­son and the end to his fu­ture ca­reer in the mil­i­tary, where he had hoped to fol­low in the foot­steps of his par­ents, both of whom are Air Force vet­er­ans.

But equally as de­railed and dam­aged is the life of the woman he was convicted of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing as she lay asleep on her bed on the third floor of an apart­ment house not far from the cam­pus of West Ch­ester Univer­sity, where she was a sopho­more, study­ing psy­chol­ogy.

Ac­cord­ing to her own tes­ti­mony at the four-day long trial in Com­mon Pleas Judge Pa­trick Car­mody’s court­room, she had been on track to grad­u­ate early from the school and seek a pro­fes­sional ca­reer. To­day, she has not grad­u­ated, is no longer en­rolled in school, and works at the same hair sa­lon where she has been em­ployed since high school.

“Why did this hap­pen?” asked First As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Michael Noone dur­ing his clos­ing ar­gu­ment Thurs­day. Those in the court­room char­ac­ter­ized the pros­e­cu­tor’s ar­gu­ment as pow­er­ful and elo­quent. Why did Lampe, a 19-year-old cadet with a model rep­u­ta­tion, choose to put his fu­ture at risk dur­ing a night of heavy drink­ing and sex­ual ad­ven­ture?

Noone could of­fer no def­i­nite an­swer, be­sides the ob­vi­ous.

“When he was un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol, he did things that he would not have done when he was sober,” Noone said. “Things that he would be sorry for later on. That is what rape in Amer­ica looks like.”

As for the woman, Noone said she had shown the strength to per­se­vere through a 2 ½-year trauma that in­cluded an un­wanted at­tack, the loss of friends and the harsh glare of court­room con­fronta­tions. “But she had the sup­port of oth­ers and the courage to stand up for her­self and not be a vic­tim,” Noone told the ju­rors hear­ing the case. The woman, now 22, silently nod­ded her head while sit­ting in the front row of Car­mody’s court­room Thurs­day.

On Fri­day, Noone re­it­er­ated his ad­mi­ra­tion for the way the woman dealt with her at­tack.

“The sur­vivor of this rape de­serves tremen­dous credit,” he said in a state­ment. “Her strength and re­solve through­out this long process have been in­spir­ing. This is a sad case, but an im­por­tant les­son that tak­ing ad­van­tage of any­one, whether they are drunk or for any other rea­son, is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able and a crime. The Com­mon­wealth ap­pre­ci­ates the jury’s thought­ful at­ten­tion dur­ing a very emo­tional trial.”

Noone said the woman did not want to com­ment ahead of sen­tenc­ing.

The charge of rape of an un­con­scious per­son is a first-de­gree felony with a max­i­mum penalty of 10 to 20 years in state pri­son. The sen­tenc­ing guide­line that judges use in fash­ion­ing their sen­tences call for a min­i­mum stan­dard range of be­tween four and five and a half years. Noone de­clined to say what sen­tence his of­fice would seek.

The jury of nine women and three men de­lib­er­ated about four hours be­fore de­liv­er­ing their verdict around 10:30 p.m. Thurs­day to a half-filled court­room, in­clud­ing Lampe, his par­ents, the woman and her sup­port­ers. When the de­ci­sion to find him guilty was an­nounced, Lampe’s mother, Deb­o­rah Lampe, be­gan sob­bing, and mem­bers of the jury started to cry, ob­servers said.

“Ob­vi­ously, we are very dis­ap­pointed with the jury’s verdict,” said de­fense at­tor­ney Arthur Donato of Me­dia, who led the trio of at­tor­neys rep­re­sent­ing Lampe. “We be­lieve that Tyler Lampe is in­no­cent, but we will pre­pare for sen­tenc­ing and be­gin re­search­ing grounds for an ap­peal. It’s sad.”

Donato said his client was not caught off guard by the jury’s de­ci­sion.

“I think ev­ery­body un­der­stood the risks in­volved in this case,” he said Fri­day. “But I think we had rea­son to hope.”

The de­fense had con­tended that the sex be­tween Lampe and the woman, whose name is be­ing with­held by the Daily Lo­cal News be­cause of the na­ture of the charges, was con­sen­sual, with both be­ing drunk enough at the time to have only a “hazy mem­ory” of events.

Lampe has been free on bail since his ar­rest in July 2016, four months af­ter the al­leged as­sault. He is cur­rently on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave from West Point, where he en­rolled in 2015. A school spokesman said this week that no de­ci­sion had been made on his fu­ture at the school pend­ing the out­come of the le­gal case against him.

The in­ci­dent oc­curred in the early morn­ing hours of March 18, 2016, in West Ch­ester. Lampe, then 19 and a mem­ber of Army’s Black Knights foot­ball team, had come to the bor­ough from West Point to visit his child­hood friends, Jake My­ers and Alison To­massini. My­ers tes­ti­fied that he wanted to show Lampe a fun time at a party at the fra­ter­nity house he be­longed. Tes­ti­mony in­di­cated that To­massini had thoughts of “hook­ing up” ro­man­ti­cally with Lampe over the week­end.

To­massini was house­mates with the vic­tim, and had warned her to stay away from Lampe that night. The two ex­changed text mes­sages in­di­cat­ing, how­ever, that Lampe was in­ter­ested in hav­ing sex with her if he could not “smash up” with any­one else.

The woman left her apart­ment af­ter drink­ing beer and vodka with a soror­ity friend. They went first to My­ers’ fra­ter­nity party but could not get in, so they went to an­other house a few doors down from her apart­ment on South High Street. When the soror­ity friend

be­came too in­tox­i­cated to be safe, the woman took her home and put her to bed. A few hours later, an­other room­mate, Nora Hughes, took the woman up to her bed­room, find­ing her to be too in­tox­i­cated to make it there her­self.

The woman tes­ti­fied that she awoke around 2:30 a.m. with Lampe on top of her, hav­ing sex. My­ers was shout­ing and pulling Lampe from her, she said. She re­ported the in­ci­dent to West Ch­ester po­lice later that day, and Lampe was ar­rested in July 2016.

In his 50-minute-long clos­ing ar­gu­ment, which he de­liv­ered with­out notes, Noone stressed to the nine women and three men on the jury that the woman’s

story had re­mained con­sis­tent over the months be­tween the in­ci­dent and the trial, that she had never con­sented to hav­ing sex with Lampe, who she had met only briefly that night.

Noone noted how her story was cor­rob­o­rated by the tes­ti­mony and state­ments of My­ers, To­massini and Hughes, and that foren­sic ev­i­dence showed that Lampe had in­deed had sex with her that night. But he also fo­cused on what the as­sault had done to her life and how the jury could con­sider that as a way to de­ter­mine whether she was a cred­i­ble wit­ness or not. They ap­par­ently be­lieved her.

“It was one of the best clos­ing ar­gu­ments that I have ever seen in my life,” said vet­eran de­fense at­tor­ney Thomas Ram­say of West Ch­ester of Noone’s pre­sen­ta­tion. “I think the tenor and the man­ner in which he de­liv­ered it all

seemed pur­pose­ful. He had such a sense of pur­pose, that he wanted to tell her story. And end­ing it with (the de­fen­dant’s) own words was bril­liant.”

Lampe had been recorded dis­cussing the in­ci­dent with the woman in a tele­phone call over­seen by West Ch­ester De­tec­tive Stan Bil­lie, the lead de­tec­tive in the case. On it, he fre­quently apol­o­gizes for what hap­pened, say­ing that he was an ad­vo­cate against sex­ual as­sault, but that he did not re­mem­ber be­ing with her that night.

But as the woman pressed him, he made a re­veal­ing com­ment, Noone re­minded the panel as he wrapped up his ar­gu­ment for a verdict of guilty. “Do you un­der­stand that you raped me?” she asked.

“Yeah, no, I un­der­stand that,” Lampe said.”It’s, it was not, you didn’t pro­vide con­sent I guess.”

Tyler Ho­gan Lampe

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