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UPDATE: Former roommate backs testimony of Washington's accuser

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 5:24 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 22, 2011
Derrick Washington exits the courtroom during a break on the first day of his trial in Columbia on Tuesday. Washington, a former Missouri football player, is on trial on a charge of deviate sexual assault.

*CORRECTION: Holly Brethorst was one of the victim's roommates. An earlier version of this article misspelled her name.

COLUMBIA — A former roommate corroborated the testimony of the woman accusing former MU football player Derrick Washington of sexual assault Wednesday morning.  

Lauren Gavin testified in Boone County Circuit Court that Washington entered the woman's bedroom while she slept and fondled her without permission. Gavin had a consensual sexual relationship with Washington, whom she invited to their apartment in June 2010.

Both women had tutored Missouri athletes.

Gavin acknowledged under cross-examination that she did not initially tell campus police about Washington's alleged actions.

The woman whom Washington is charged with sexually assaulting testified Tuesday that she never saw him in her room the night of the incident.

"No one was in the room when I woke up," she said. "Did I see that person's face? No. I was not looking to identify who assaulted me at the time, no."

While under cross-examination by Washington's attorney Christopher Slusher, the woman said she knew Washington was going to come to her apartment at Campus View to visit Gavin.

She also said in cross-examination that she never exchanged a word with the person, so she never heard his voice. 

"I wasn't looking to actively seek who assaulted me," she said.

Washington is charged with deviate sexual assault, a class C felony, in connection with the incident on June 19, 2010.

An order of protection was issued against Washington, on June 22, 2010, prohibiting him from visiting or communicating with the woman, who was 23 at the time.

The first six hours of Tuesday's proceedings in Circuit Judge Kevin Crane's court were taken up by jury selection. Six women and six men were impaneled.

Washington's accuser was the first person to take the stand and testify Tuesday, showing no signs of fear or acknowledgement that Washington was present in the courtroom.

She was questioned for more than an hour by Boone County Assistant Prosecutor Andrea Hayes and Slusher about the incident and her relationship with Washington, whom she tutored but with whom she said she had no other relationship.

At one point, she came to tears as she described her recollection of waking up during the assault.

"I felt weight behind me, and I felt fingers in my vagina," she testified, speaking hesitantly with tears rolling down her cheeks.

During the prosecution's opening statement, Hayes said no semen or DNA was collected because the woman underwent a sexual-assault examination for a "digital penetration."

Slusher said in the opening statement for the defense that the lack of evidence should cast doubt on the woman's assertion that a sexual assault had taken place.

During cross-examination, Slusher also sought to highlight inconsistencies in the victim's statements about how much alcohol she'd consumed in the hours before the incident.

He introduced into evidence credit card statements that showed the victim spent $15 on beer at a bar that was having a dollar beer night, suggesting that she drank more than she first told investigators.

Holly Brethorst, one of the victim's roommates, testified she was the victim's designated driver on the night of the incident.

"I picked her up around 1:30 at El Rancho," Brethorst said. "She seemed tipsy but not too drunk."

Brethorst was also questioned about her memories of what happened after they returned to the apartment. She testified that another roommate, whom Washington had been seeing, was asleep. Brethorst also said she was awakened sometime that night by the sound of someone pounding on the door to the apartment.

The woman's father briefly took the stand after his daughter finished testifying. He discussed his relationship with his daughter and their phone conversations on the night of the incident.

"She was extremely upset," he testified. "Inconsolable, almost hysterical."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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