Roommate Takes Stand At Rape Trial
North Haverhill — The roommate of a Dartmouth College student who alleges she was raped by a classmate last spring took the stand on Thursday and testified she was in the adjoining bedroom on the night in question and overheard sexual activity, but not the sounds of an assault.
Nancy Wu was called as a witness for the prosecution and told Assistant Grafton County Attorney Paul Fitzgerald that she was studying the night of the alleged assault in the suite she shared with the accuser. Wu said she heard what sounded like consensual sex , and the only words she heard were “Don’t push me,” spoken by the accuser.
Parker C. Gilbert, a former Dartmouth College student, is charged with seven counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault and one misdemeanor criminal trespassing charge.
The prosecution alleges Gilbert entered the woman’s unlocked dorm room in the early morning hours of May 2, 2013, and began assaulting her while she slept.
Gilbert and the woman had attended a party at Beta Alpha Omega fraternity earlier in the night and spoke briefly, prosecutors said.
Parker’s defense team has said the encounter was consensual and “clumsy, awkward, drunk college sex.”
In Tuesday’s opening statements, defense attorney Robert Cary said Wu would be an “unbiased” witness among those called to testify because she was the only individual not intoxicated that night.
Wu and the accuser shared a suite in Berry Hall last year. Their dorm unit was divided into two rooms with a wall and a door s eparating Wu’s bedroom from the woman’s. The hallway door opened to the woman’s room, which Wu had to pass through in order to get to her room.
On the night of the alleged assault, Wu was awake and studying at her desk, which was near the door that opened to the accuser’s room. While Wu was studying, she heard her roommate return to her room around 1 a.m. with several friends.
Later, Wu said a man opened the door to her room and peeked inside before closing it again.
On Thursday, Wu identified that man as Gilbert and pointed to him in the courtroom. She said Gilbert didn’t say anything to her before closing the door.
Soon after, Wu said, she heard whispering on the other side of the wall , followed by noises consistent with sexual activity .
Wu said that at some point she moved to her bed, located opposite the wall dividing the two rooms.
Wu told Fitzgerald she only learned about the allegations made by her roommate at a later date, but couldn’t recall precisely when that was. Although they shared a dorm suite, Wu said, they didn’t socialize much.
Cary, the defense attorney, cross-e xamined Wu with a series of questions, most of which she answered with a simple yes or no.
“But it was quiet, right?” Cary said.
Wu paused. “Yes,” she said.
“Did you believe at the time that you thought they were trying to be quiet?” Cary said.
Wu paused again before saying yes.
Cary asked a few more questions, then asked if Wu heard anyone yelling or heard anyone yell “stop.”
Wu said no.
“You didn’t hear any crying during the sounds of sex,” Cary said.
“Not that I can remember,” she said.
“You certainly didn’t hear the sound of anyone falling to the floor,” Cary said.
“Not that I remember,” Wu said.
“You heard nothing that caused you any alarm,” Cary said.
“No,” she said.
“You certainly didn’t think that anyone was being attacked,” Cary said.
Again, she answered, “No.”
“There was nothing out of the ordinary,” Cary said, followed by a long pause from Wu before Cary added, “other than the sounds of sex.”
“No,” Wu said.
Earlier this week, the accuser took the stand, as well as her mother, father and several students who were with her that night. On Thursday, the prosecution called a psychology professor from the University of New Hampshire, as well as a male student who lived across the hall from the accuser, and two friends of Gilbert’s, one of whom was a rugby teammate and had been drinking with him the night of the alleged assault.
Another witness called Thursday was Kelsey Sipple, a friend of the accuser’s and the person in whom she confided after the alleged assault and who encouraged her to go to Dick’s House, the college’s health center.
During the defense’s opening statements on Tuesday, Cary had said Sipple had pressured the accuser to seek medical attention, a point the defense emphasized again while cross-examining Sipple on Thursday.
Cary said Sipple had told investigators that the woman had “casually” mentioned the incident to her when they met on the Dartmouth green around 1 p.m. on May 2, the afternoon after the alleged assault.
When Sipple said “casually” was the wrong way to describe the conversation, Cary showed her the transcript of her interview with Hanover Police Capt. Frank Moran, who investigated the assault complaint. Sipple acknowledged that she used the word, but insisted that the woman was not casual when explaining her encounter.
Cary also said Sipple told the investigator that as she “picked apart” her friend’s story, the accuser became agitated.
“You said, ‘You have to go to Dick’s House,’ ” Cary said.
“I told her it was completely her decision,” Sipple said. “I told her I’m not going to pressure you. I think it’s the best idea. It’s completely up to you because I can’t make the decision for you. She thought it over and then she said OK.”
At the end of the cross-examination, Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, gave Sipple the transcript of what she told authorities and asked her to read it in full to give the jury the full context of her conversation.
Sipple added that when she met the woman on the green, her friend was acting as if she was in a state of shock.
“She wouldn’t look at me,” Sipple said. “She was behaving in a way that I had never seen her behave before.”
The trial is scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Grafton Superior Court in North Haverhill.
Sarah Brubeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3223.