Rape Suspect’s Defense Strategy Emerges
North Haverhill — A former Dartmouth College student who is charged with the rape of a female student has hired a prominent Washington, D.C., lawyer to help with his defense.
Robert Cary, of Williams & Connolly and a Dartmouth graduate, is Parker Gilbert’s third attorney. Gilbert, 20, of London, was arrested in May after a 19-year-old female student alleged that he entered her unlocked dorm room and sexually assaulted her during the early morning hours of May 2. Cary represented the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens when the powerful Alaska Republican was exonerated on ethics charges.
Gilbert is no longer enrolled at Dartmouth and is currently residing in Newbury, N.H. Over the past month Gilbert’s attorneys have filed numerous motions in Grafton Superior Court that provide insight and clues into how his lawyers are shaping a defense strategy.
On Oct. 3, another of Gilbert’s defense attorney, Norwich lawyer George Ostler, filed notices that said that Gilbert “may rely on the defense of intoxication, which negates the culpable mental state required for the commission of the offenses.” Gilbert might also rely on consent and/or mistake or accident as defenses, according to the notice.
Gilbert is charged with seven counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault. He pleaded not guilty to all charges in August.
For each count that Gilbert is convicted and sentenced, he could be given a maximum of 20 years in prison.
As a general practice, the Valley News does not identify victims of alleged sex crimes.
The defense has also filed motions asking that the Grafton Superior Court order the “custodian of records” at Dartmouth to hand over to Gilbert and his attorneys all documents and electronic records showing entry into the electronic doors of the Berry/Bildner dormitory — where the incident is alleged to have occured — between 6 p.m. on May 1 and 12 p.m. on May 2.
The defense also requested that the college provide all documents and records related to the investigation conducted by Dartmouth’s Safety and Security office, medical personnel, the dean’s office, the Dartmouth office of judicial affairs or Dartmouth Committee on Standards dealing with Gilbert and the alleged May 2 events.
The court still has to rule on both of those requests.
On Nov. 6, the state filed an objection to the defense motion, arguing the request amounts to a broad sweep of information and goes far beyond simply seeking information that would be contained in the Safety and Security office’s files. The state said that the victim only consented to the release of medical information related to the sexual assault. But requesting information beyond that would be “inappropriate,” said prosecutors.
The defense also is seeking all phone billing records of the victim, including when her phone and text messages were sent and received, in May.
The state is fighting that request, too, stating that the defendant does not need to delve into the victim’s personal contacts.
“This victim has seen all aspects of her life investigated by (the) defense, months after the sexual assault. ... It is a campaign designed to harass the victim,” the state wrote in its objection.
The defense also wants to obtain the victim’s emails between May 1 and May 14, citing that the state has obtained all emails to and from Gilbert from May 2 to May 10. The state contends it has already provided emails relevant to the investigation, and the open-ended requests amount to intimidation.
“It is a fishing expedition into private information that is not designed to elicit information, but rather harassing the victim,” the state wrote in its objection.
The state added that prior to May 2, Gilbert and the victim “never so much as had dinner with each other.” Gilbert had never been in the victim’s room, nor had she been into his room. The night of the alleged assault, Gilbert allegedly tapped the victim on the shoulder during a fraternity party and made a brief statement to her, according to the state’s filing.
Cary, Ostler and Gilbert’s other attorney, Cathy Green, of Manchester, all declined to comment for this story.
Gilbert was a member of Dartmouth’s class of 2016 and has been a member of Dartmouth’s rugby team. Gilbert is no longer enrolled as a student and is not on campus, Dartmouth spokesperson Justin Anderson said.
Gilbert did not return a call for comment.
In May, Gilbert was released on bail and ordered to surrender his British passport.
On Nov. 1, Ostler filed a motion to set a trial date for the week of March 17.
There could be as many as 20 witnesses called to trial, according to the motion, several of whom could be Dartmouth students.
Both the state and the defense are expected to call multiple expert witnesses.
Grafton County Attorney Lara Saffo declined to comment, citing the pending case.
There might also be an on-site jury view of the victim’s room during the trial.
According to the defense’s motion, discovery materials show that the victim’s friend was in the same room as the victim at the time of the alleged offense, while the victim’s roommate was studying in the other room of the two-room suite.
The defense states that discovery materials indicate that the victim alleges that Gilbert was angry, violent and calling her names, and the victim yelled out.
However, other materials indicate the roommate was “awake, sober and studying less than eight feet away, and only heard sounds consistent with consensual sex,” according to the defense’s motion for a jury view.
The state’s response to this motion said it will leave the decision to the court’s discretion. The room is now occupied by different students and will not look the same, the state argues.
“If the defense is simply asking to understand room measurements and types of walls, the state believes the photographs/videos will suffice,” according to the state’s response.
Sarah Brubeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3223.