WASHINGTON – A Navy judge said Friday he would allow prosecutors to play a taped phone call in which a former U.S. Naval Academy quarterback apologized to a female midshipman he is accused of raping in her dorm room.
The tape was made Feb. 8 and played during a March hearing before Lamar Owens Jr.'s court-martial.
On it, Owens, speaking in a soft voice and apparently weeping at times, says he considered killing himself. He tells the woman he "didn't do it for long" and that "you weren't awake."
The defense wanted to prevent the jury from hearing the tape, arguing that the call had been scripted by investigators. They said Owens only agreed to take the call because he believed she had reported the incident to authorities and he was afraid of antagonizing her.
But Navy Cmdr. John Maksym ruled that Navy investigators had followed proper procedures. The tape was expected to be played later Friday.
Owens, 22, of Savannah, Ga., is charged with rape, conduct unbecoming an officer and violating a military protective order. If convicted he would be eligible for a maximum term of life in prison.
The woman said Owens came to her room as she slept and forced himself on her. She said she resisted him and did not consent to the sex. Owens' attorneys said she invited him to her room and that the sex was consensual. Owens broke it off when he realized the woman, who was drunk, had passed out in bed.
On Thursday, Maksym criticized Navy prosecutors, saying some of the evidence and witnesses they presented during the trial has been weak.
After he refused to let a nurse testify about the medical effect of rape and strictly limited what a psychiatrist could say about the mental state of rape victims, Maksym chastised prosecutors for what he called "the anemic nature" of their witnesses.
It was unclear whether the judge was referring to all the prosecution witnesses, which included the accuser.
But Maksym was especially critical of the qualifications of expert witnesses prosecutors called to rebut questions raised by Owens' attorneys about why the woman didn't cry out that night and didn't immediately notify authorities.
They included an Army psychiatrist who testified briefly that some victims delay their reporting and many don't ever tell authorities about sexual assaults. The judge noted the psychiatrist was just two weeks into a psychiatry fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
"Is there no more?" Maksym asked prosecutors. "Come on. The chap just got out of his residency. We're not talking about the son of Freud here."
Owens led Navy's football team to an 8-4 record that included victories over military academy rivals Air Force and Army and a victory in the Poinsettia Bowl over Colorado State. He was the team's most valuable player but did not graduate along with his class in the spring because of the criminal investigation.