A federal court jury in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday rejected a woman’s $21.5 million lawsuit alleging New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose and two of his friends broke into her apartment and raped her while she was incapacitated three years ago.
Rose’s attorney called the lawsuit a blatant attempt to extract money from the NBA player, but the woman’s attorney insisted it was a “classic case of gang rape.”
The mostly female jury deliberated for about three hours before reaching its unanimous verdict, exonerating Rose and his longtime friends Ryan Allen and Randy Hampton. The woman who filed the lawsuit — a 30-year-old ex- girlfriend of Rose — claimed the athlete and his friends conspired to sexually assault her in the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 27, 2013, as she lay passed out.
After the verdicts were read, Rose, 28, and his co-defendants embraced their attorneys. The plaintiff turned away, her face hidden behind long, flowing hair. She left the courthouse without comment.
U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald, who presided over the often sordid 10-day trial, wished both sides well, offering Rose luck with the Knicks, “except when you play the Lakers.”
The woman’s attorney, Waukeen McCoy, said outside court that he would consider an appeal, adding that he was bewildered by the verdict.
“Money wasn’t the purpose,” he told reporters.
The lawsuit alleged trespassing, sexual battery and battery. Although the complaint is resolved, the Los Angeles Police Department is still conducting a criminal investigation into the woman’s allegations.
In closing arguments Tuesday afternoon, a defense attorney told the eight-person civil jury that the lawsuit was an attempt to get money from Rose because he broke up with her by text and didn’t seem to care that she had sex with his buddies.
The plaintiff’s lawyer countered that his client was taken advantage of by Rose and his friends — whom he called “sexual deviants” — while she was either drunk or drugged, and has yet to fully recover.
“She wants money,” Rose’s lawyer, Mark Baute, told the jury. “She was upset with Derrick for ending their relationship. She is not a real rape victim — she is a liar.”
A string of witnesses testified in federal court for both sides, and the defendants each told the jury they had been invited to the plaintiff’s downtown home for consensual sex, hours after they all had partied together at Rose’s rented Beverly Hills mansion.
Calling the allegations “a classic case of gang rape,” plaintiff’s attorney McCoy insisted his client was “not looking for a quick dollar. She is looking for accountability.”
McCoy asked the panel to “hold these men accountable for their actions.” By painting the woman as sexually aggressive and inquiring about her sex life, the defense was attempting to “slut-shame” Rose’s accuser, he said.
Both sides agreed that Rose and the woman were in some kind of relationship for about 20 months prior to the alleged assault. Baute said Rose had broken up with the woman by text in July 2013, leaving her bitter and confused.
As the defense tells it, the woman sent Rose a text out of the blue on the morning of Aug. 26, 2013, indicating she was “horny.”
Rose “took the bait” and invited the woman to party with him in Beverly Hills that night, Baute said, suggesting that the accuser was secretly laying grounds for a rape lawsuit that wouldn’t be filed until two years later.
The woman and a friend were invited to have a drink with Rose in Beverly Hills that night, the attorneys agreed. But while defense witnesses testified that the plaintiff appeared relatively sober and initiated sex with all three defendants at the gathering that night, the accuser told the jury that no sex ever took place at the party.
She said after a couple shots of tequila, she began to feel unusually intoxicated, and a cab was called to take her and her friend to their respective homes.
The alleged assault occurred hours after she returned to her apartment, following what the defense claims were dozens of 2 a.m. text messages and phone calls to the defendants allegedly insisting they drive over to see her.
The accuser was “the shot caller,” Baute said, telling the jury that the woman brought the defendants into her apartment and then told them to come to her bedroom “one at a time.” He said the lawsuit filed in 2015 was an attempt to “transfer wealth” from Rose and get back at him for ending their relationship.
Rose has missed a handful of preseason games and practices while attending the trial, and Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said he didn’t expect the former league MVP to rejoin the team until Friday.
The guard is expected to have several practices with his teammates before the Knicks’ season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.
—City News Service