Updated Fri, Jul 26, 2013 12:22 pm
An Ohio University student took the stand Tuesday to testify that a Gallipolis man serving in the National Guard raped her while she was intoxicated.
Levi Canterbury is charged in Athens County Common Pleas Court with rape, a charge that alleges he picked up the OU student in September 2011 after she left a party while intoxicated, took her to a parking lot, raped her and then dropped her off near campus. His trial began with jury selection last week and jurors started hearing testimony Monday.
Tuesday, the woman told the jury that she had consumed a lot of alcohol the night she came in contact with Canterbury. The alcohol caused her memory to fade until she realized she was lost on a road in Athens.
After becoming lost, the woman, originally from Granville, said she “stuck out (her) thumb” and watched for a car to arrive.
She had walked away from a party on Grosvenor Street, and had ended up along Route 682. She testified that she had started drinking at dinner with her girlfriend before the party. She said they consumed 100-proof vodka mixed with Mountain Dew and that she could not remember how many she had. The woman added that she’d never been to Grosvenor Street before going to the party and that she had a “terrible sense of direction.”
While at the party, she said she remembers having a rum and Coke as she interacted with friends. During cross-examination, she admitted she could have had more drinks that night, but she didn’t remember them if she did.
“I felt very comfortable and happy to be there,” the woman told the court.
She doesn’t remember leaving the party or how she got to Route 682. But when she realized she was lost, the woman told the jury that she just wanted to get back to her dorm and sleep.
“I was starting to panic and worried because I was clearly lost and didn’t know where I was, so I was alarmed,” the woman testified.
A man in a neutral-colored car saw her on the road and pulled over in front of her, she said. She identified that man to the court as Canterbury. She also said she’d seen a picture of Canterbury in a local newspaper and recognized him as the man driving the car.
The woman indicated she considers herself an optimist, who, until she came into contact with Canterbury, believed people helped each other.
“The fact that I relied on this community ... relied on people to help me and no one did, I don’t know how that will make me feel the rest of my life,” she said.
When she approached the car, she asked to go to Court Street. It was then that she claims Canterbury asked her why she wasn’t wearing any pants. She had not noticed before then, she said.
“He was definitely fixated on the fact that I wasn’t wearing pants,” the woman said in court. “He started saying, ‘What am I going to do with a pretty girl without pants on in my car, how am I going to hold myself back?’”
She relayed her account of how she started to feel “less safe” and said Canterbury stopped the car in a parking lot, came around to her side of the car, climbed on top of her and raped her despite her protests and rejections. She described a feeling of hopelessness as she “couldn’t stop what was happening.”
“My eyes were closed because I don’t want to see what’s happening, don’t want to remember what’s happening,” she told the jury as she began to cry.
On cross-examination, defense attorney William Eachus asked if the woman remembered taking off her shirt because it was a pullover and she would have had to put her hands up to get it off, he said.
“I didn’t take my shirt off,” she said.
After Canterbury allegedly raped the woman, he drove her to Court Street. When she stood up, he commented on the pool of blood now in the passenger seat, she testified.
In court, she identified two pairs of bloody underwear as garments she had worn during the alleged rape and after she had changed in her girlfriend’s dorm. She had no other injuries from before or after she got in the car with Canterbury, she claimed.
The next day she told her girlfriend and another friend who was a resident assistant what had happened, and they took her to O’Bleness Memorial Hospital.
The woman admitted she lied to medical professionals the next day about drinking alcohol because she was underage. But she received prescriptions for sexually transmitted disease prevention medication and the Plan B pregnancy prevention medication.
She was asked if she wanted to provide samples for a rape kit, which a nurse told her would take several hours and involve swabbing of all the areas that had been even potentially violated, and other areas as a precaution.
“I was thinking I did not want to do it, it (the procedure) was so long, i just wanted to go home,” she told the court. “I did not want to be that vulnerable in front of a stranger.”
After notifying her family of what had happened, they encouraged her to file a police report. She had not intended to file a report until her family encouraged it. She said the process of pressing charges and getting through the court proceedings has “prolonged the healing process.”
During questioning, the woman frequently told prosecution and defense attorneys about her limited memory of events leading up to and after being in the car with Canterbury. She said she wanted to “delete” the memory and the two years that have passed had caused more fading memories.
“I wanted it behind me,” the woman told the jury. “I wasn’t feeling vengeful, I did not want to be in this position right now.”
The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday.