Two former Ohio State University football players, one on trial on rape charges and the other a witness, testified during a trial in Franklin County Common Pleas Court Wednesday that players were told by team officials to record or get evidence of consent with their sexual partners to protect themselves.
Amir I. Riep and Jahsen L. Wint, both 24 and former defensive players for the Buckeyes, are each charged with two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping, all first-degree felonies. They’re accused of raping a then-19-year-old female freshman on Feb. 4, 2020 at a Northwest Side apartment Riep and Wint were staying at.
The Columbus Dispatch does not publish the names of alleged sexual violence victims without their consent.
Attorneys in the case gave their closing arguments Wednesday and the case was turned over to the jury. The jury began deliberations late Wednesday afternoon before going home. Jurors will resume deliberations Thursday morning.
A key piece of evidence in the case is a cellphone video Riep took of the alleged victim, which was played in court. The short video is visually dark but captures the sound of the woman saying she’s crying and then agreeing after Riep asks if the sex was consensual.
Testimony: OSU football players told to get evidence of sexual consent
Riep and a witness, Lloyd McFarquhar, another former Ohio State football player who played defensive back and on special teams, testified Wednesday during the trial that players were told to get evidence that their sexual partners consented to protect themselves from any possible future issues.
Riep and McFarquhar did not testify who on the Buckeyes staff told them or other Ohio State players to do this.
Ohio State football team spokesman Jerry Emig declined to comment Wednesday to The Dispatch on whether university staff has ever instructed athletes about getting a video record or other evidence of consent from their sexual partners.
Shortly before 5 p.m., Emig sent a statement to The Dispatch by email: ‘In general, when the Department of Athletics speaks with student-athletes about consent, we work closely with subject matter experts on campus and follow the university’s well established Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy.
‘You’ll see that page one of the policy defines consent as, ‘permission that is clear, knowing, voluntary, and expressed prior to engaging in and during an act. Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity.”
Riep’s defense attorney, Dan Sabol, played four short videos in court on Wednesday which he said show instances from 2018 and 2019 when Riep recorded women after sex. In the four videos, the women are clothed or not on camera and agree when Riep asks if what they did was consensual.
Franklin County Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Meyer objected to the four videos being shown to the jury, but Common Pleas Court Judge Kimberly Cocroft allowed it.
Riep testified he told one of the girls before recording, ‘I’m on the football team and this is something that we just are taught to do to protect ourselves. It’s nothing against you.’
Riep played for Ohio State for three seasons (2017 to 2019) and Wint played for four seasons (2016 to 2019).
Ohio State head football coach Ryan Day dismissed both players from the team on Feb. 12, 2020, saying they had failed to live up to the standards of Day and the program.
McFarquhar just finished his fifth season with the team.
Lawyers give closing arguments
Meyer told the jury to compare the four videos Sabol presented with the video of the alleged victim.
“One of these things is not like the others. Listen to what those other women say, their voices, their demeanor, what they say and how they say it,” Meyer said.
Sabol and Sam Shamansky, Wint’s defense attorney, argued the woman had consensual sex with both men but regretted it afterward.
Sabol said the woman probably didn’t mean for her allegations to get this far. Shamansky accused the alleged victim’s father of pushing his daughter and authorities to pursue criminal charges.
Defense attorneys pointed to discrepancies between what the alleged victim told a nurse and a detective three years ago and what she testified to during the trial.
At trial, for example, the woman testified she sought a civil protection order against the two men the day after the incident and this delayed her from getting a sexual assault exam until Feb. 6. She got the civil protection order on Feb. 11, Shamansky said.
“These are demonstrable lies,” Shamansky said.
Sabol and Shamansky compared their clients’ calm demeanors on the stand to the alleged victim’s tearful and inconsistent testimony.
“Why was there a difference in their demeanor?” Meyer said at closing. “Only one of them was traumatized by this. Only one was the victim of … a brutal gang rape.”
Dispatch staff writer Bill Rabinowitz contributed to this report.
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