Updated Tue, Jul 30, 2013 7:44 am
Levi Canterbury took the stand Monday in Athens County Common Pleas Court and testified that he lied to investigators when they asked if he had sexual contact with the woman accusing him of rape.
He said he did not tell officers what really happened that night because he was “panicking,” having heard the Ohio University Police Department was investigating a rape allegation.
In court Monday to begin the second week of his trial on two counts of rape, Canterbury said, however, that it was the woman who initiated the sexual contact.
Canterbury told jurors he did pick up the woman at about 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 10, 2011, after seeing her walking without pants along Route 682 toward Route 33.
He said the woman, whom he later told a 911 dispatcher was “very, very inebriated,” crossed two lanes of traffic on the road and climbed over a barrier to get to into his car that night.
The woman, an Ohio University student from Licking County, testified on the second day of the trial that Canterbury had pulled his vehicle over directly in front of her and she made no mention of crossing lanes of traffic or a barrier.
She asked to go to Union and Court Streets, Canterbury testified.
“She wanted to go to Union and Court, I said maybe there would be somewhere a little bit better, maybe closer to your dorm,” Canterbury said.
She never told him what dorm she lived in or that she wanted to go back to Voigt Hall, Canterbury acknowledged on cross examination. She had testified she went to Voigt that night to meet her friend after she was raped.
On cross-examination, Athens County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Driscoll asked why, after repeated requests, Canterbury didn’t just drop her off where she asked to go.
“Because it was 2:30 in the morning, she had no pants on,” Canterbury testified. “It didn’t seem like a very good idea to drop her off where all the bars are.”
He said he offered her his military-issued pullover fleece to cover her legs since the jacket she was wearing was “silvery” and “a thin material.” The woman and others have testified she was wearing a dark corduroy jacket that night.
After taking her to the parking lots of Peden Stadium and the Convocation Center to see if she could find any reference points, Canterbury testified, he stopped at a lot near OU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Canterbury testified he told her, “I kind of feel it’s my job to help a little bit here because I seemed to be the only one out.”
It was in the third parking lot, he testified, that he told her he was in the military, about to leave to go to training.
After mentioning that, he said, she told him “that was hot” and reached down to undo his pants.
He denies taking her shirt or bra off, but said he crossed over inside the car to the passenger seat where she “began to pleasure herself” with his penis in her underwear.
The woman testified that after turning down his attempts to put his hand on her leg, Canterbury got out of the car to walk around to the passenger side. She claimed he then got on top of her and forcibly raped her.
Canterbury maintained on the stand that he never had sexual intercourse with the woman. He said he thought that was where the woman was “trying to take” the situation, but he “tried to hold off ... as much as possible.”
“After 10 or 15 minutes ... I apologized that I wasn’t able to have sex with her,” Canterbury told the jury. “She said that was all right, that she probably wouldn’t remember anyway.”
It was then that Canterbury took the woman to Union and Court Streets, he said.
He called 911 after she got out of the vehicle and told the dispatcher that the woman had walked down Court Street. He told the police that night and the jury on Monday that she was walking down West Union, in the opposite direction of Voigt Hall.
The changes in his story were due to an unfamiliarity with uptown streets, Canterbury said during cross-examination.
When the man met with officers from Athens Police Department, he asked Sgt. Adam Claar if the police needed photos or samples of the blood in his car, but Claar, according to Canterbury, said ,”no that was fine.”
Claar even watched Canterbury’s vehicle while he went to get napkins to clean up the blood, Canterbury testified.
Claar, who testified late last week, did not say he watched the vehicle when he was talking to Canterbury that night.
Canterbury said he met with OU police the day he was set to leave for national guard training. He is now on non-payable status pending the outcome of his court case.
He testified that he had received the crime alert about a rape investigation from his then-girlfriend, Ashley Spencer, 15 to 20 minutes before police arrived.
Spencer testified earlier in the trial that Canterbury had told her about picking up the woman that night, and that he indicated the woman told him that she had been raped.
He said he was nervous about the charges when he talked to police, but also felt part of the interview was “accusatory.” Only eight minutes of the interview with Canterbury were recorded because of a battery failure, police testified.
“The part that was accusatory was after the tape; that’s all,” Canterbury told the court.
But the testimony police gave of the interview with Canterbury was not accurate, he testified on Monday.
When asked during cross-examination what he said when he was asked if semen would be found in the woman’s underwear, he said he didn’t lie to investigators.
“I said no, I didn’t believe it would,” Canterbury said.
He didn’t tell them about what had happened in the parking lot because of his nervousness as well. Driscoll asked during cross-examination if he’d forgotten about what happened.
“I didn’t forget, I just didn’t tell them,” Canterbury said.
Canterbury said he panicked and “overreacted” when Gallipolis police also questioned him.
“I understood what the accusation was, and they were very accusatory themselves with the manner of questioning,” Canterbury said.
The jury asked Canterbury a few questions as well, including a question about why he had said he was looking for a “pencil or something” when he saw that she was bleeding.
“I thought, given the amount of blood that was on the seat ... a tourniquet might have been necessary,” Canterbury told the jurors.
Canterbury testified that he hadn’t noticed any blood “that he was aware of” when she had first entered his vehicle.
The prosecution and defense both rested their cases on Monday, but the prosecution called Canterbury’s close friend, Dane Black, to the stand as a brief rebuttal witness.
Black testified that Canterbury had called the night after the alleged rape to ask how to remove blood from cloth.
Canterbury did not tell Black about his encounter with the woman.
Defense attorneys and the prosecution will present closing arguments on Tuesday, after which time, Judge L. Alan Goldsberry said, the jury will start deliberations Tuesday afternoon.