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More Details Emerge in Isla Vista Rape Trial

More details emerge in the case of the alleged rape by former UCSB soccer star Eric Frimpong.

A 19-year-old woman who is accusing a former UCSB soccer player of rape gave testimony Monday that provided more details about her version of the violence that allegedly occurred on the Isla Vista beach that February night.


During day five of the jury trial, the alleged victim said former soccer player Eric Frimpong hit her in the face, tried to strangle her and pinned her to the ground while taking off her clothing on the beach shortly after midnight on the morning of Feb. 17.

The woman also said the attack left a bruise on her right cheekbone, and that she sprained a wrist fighting back. The woman, a UCSB freshman at the time of the incident, also maintained that Frimpong bit her, and that the violence left a scar on her buttock.

In addition, she said her attacker�s attempts to strangle her made it difficult to swallow the next day.

Meanwhile, the defense aggressively questioned her memory of the events during cross-examination, saying the 115-pound woman had consumed 13 drinks over the course of three hours just prior to the alleged rape.

Defense attorney Robert Sanger also asked the woman repeatedly why she never called 9-1-1 that night. She answered that she was still on probation for under-age drinking while in high school, and was afraid of getting in trouble.

All told, Monday�s daylong court session consisted of adding more details to an already detailed story. It came with testimony from not only the alleged victim, but also the stranger who helped her shortly after the incident, the friend who took her to the hospital, and the sheriff�s deputy who interviewed her at the hospital.

Frimpong is defending against one count of felony sexual assault of the woman who testified Monday. He has also been accused in an incident with another alleged victim in which he faces one count of misdemeanor sexual battery.

Dressed in a sportcoat and tie, Frimpong displayed few signs of emotion Monday, looking down at his hands or straight ahead toward the witnesses, stoic but with relaxed shoulders. In contrast, the accuser appeared distressed, her mouth and eyes fixed in a sort of tense frown.

The summary of the felony case as told by witnesses is as follows:

On the Friday night of Feb. 16, after consuming four shots of vodka in her dorm room, and then four shots of rum and two beers at a couple parties, the woman tried to get into another party at a Del Playa Drive residence. But the people at the house did not let her inside. Standing in the driveway, the woman called a friend on her cell phone.

There, she met 21-year-old Frimpong, who also was standing in the driveway, talking on his cell phone. They struck up a conversation, and decided to walk to Frimpong�s house nearby. In his backyard, they played beer pong, a drinking game in which players try to toss a ping-pong ball into one of several glasses of beer at the other end of the table. Generally, if one player makes the shot, the player on the other side of the table must down the beer in the cup.

After drinking several more beers, the two decided to go to the beach just below the Del Playa Drive house in which Frimpong resided.

The woman said her memory of what happened next is fragmented, but that she recalled the following: Someone threw her to the ground, placed a hand over her mouth, struck her with a partially closed fist, and then removed her pants and underwear before raping her.

After the attacker fled, she said, she laid still for several minutes, then collected her clothing and looked for help at a nearby parking lot. She was barefoot, and had lost her purse and cell phone.

In the parking lot she happened across a young man she�d never met, and asked to use his cell phone. After making several calls to friends � in which she told at least one she�d been raped � two friends came to take her to her dorm at the Francisco Torres Towers. Soon after, around 1:45 a.m., her sister and a family friend came by to take her to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital. While there, she was interviewed by a sheriff�s deputy. Later she was examined at a crisis center for victims of sexual assault.

Also at issue in the case is her past relationship with another man, Benjamin Randall, whom she said she�d had sex with four days before the alleged crime. While partying that night, she had talked with Randall on her cell phone. They also had seen each other that night: Randall has testified that he watched the woman and Frimpong walking to Frimpong�s, possibly arm in arm.

On Monday, prosecuting attorney Mary Barron sought to show the jury the physical evidence of the struggle on the beach. Among other things, the woman positively identified the clothing she was wearing that night. The jacket was scuffed and dirty, allegedly from the violence on the beach.

Barron also wanted to establish that the alleged victim was not too intoxicated to communicate clearly. In an apparent attempt to demonstrate the woman�s lucidity that night, Barron played a recording of the woman being interviewed by Sheriff�s Deputy Joel Rivlin of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol.

Rivlin himself testified that the woman seemed �clear and coherent.� However, when pressed by Sanger, Rivlin said her blood-alcohol level was probably over the legal driving limit of .08. He added that deputies generally do not test the blood-alcohol levels of potential rape victims.

Rivlin said the woman had clearly been �severely traumatized� that night. When Barron asked him to elaborate, he said, �Her expression, the look in her eye, the fact she was curled up, the way she spoke.�

In a strange twist, Rivlin testified that, the next day, a man who spoke only Spanish delivered the woman�s wallet to him at the Isla Vista Foot Patrol station.

Rivlin � who speaks very little Spanish � had trouble understanding the man, but said he believed the man found the wallet on Picasso Road, several blocks away from the scene of the alleged crime. Due to the language barrier, Superior Court Judge Brian Hill ordered the jury to disregard the information.

Meanwhile, defense attorney Sanger attempted to establish not only that the woman was too intoxicated to clearly remember the events, but also that she possessed a track record of blacking out after alcohol binges, and so may have done so again.

During the cross-examination, he pressed her into admitting that she had blacked out between five and 10 times in her life. However, she denied that she blacked out during the night in question. Sanger thought it was significant that Frimpong, who had majored in math, was open in discussing his background with the woman, telling her his age, along with the fact that he was raised in Africa. (Frimpong’s native country is Ghana.)

He also pressed her repeatedly on her relationship with Randall, asking whether he followed her to Frimpong�s house. She said he did not.

Sanger also seemed to imply that one of the deputies � not Rivlin � had it in for Frimpong. Sanger asked if she remembered the deputy using profane language to describe Frimpomg during a lineup. Although the woman said she didn�t remember the profanity, when Sanger asked her if the deputy had been focused on anyone other than Frimpong as a suspect, she answered �no.�

And seizing on what he viewed to be her uncertainty, Sanger called attention to a line in the report, written by a deputy quoting the alleged victim when she pointed out Frimpong.

�I�m pretty sure it�s him,� she had said.

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