An emotional testimony from the woman alleging that fellow former UCSB soccer standout Eric Frimpong raped her in the early morning hours of February 17 was the center of day four in the people’s case against Frimpong.
The 18-year old victim took the stand mid-afternoon Friday, entering Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Brian Hill’s courtroom crying, with a friend on one side and the county’s victim witness coordinator on the other.
During her testimony, the woman, who is presently taking the quarter off from school, recalled meeting Frimpong, 21, outside an Isla Vista party and going back to his house to play beer pong. “I didn’t feel threatened or anything,” she said. “When we got to his house his roommates were there like he said.”
The woman calmed down after several questions from prosecutor Mary Barron, but avoided looking in Frimpong’s direction. She became emotional, leading to a break in the courtroom, when Barron, after asking her questions about the events of the night of February 16, asked her to identify the person in the courtroom whom she had met that night. Frimpong, dressed in a blue sports coat with khaki pants, a blue shirt and a striped tie, remained composed, quiet and still during most of her testimony Friday, looking at her the whole time.
While previous testimonies from friends have varied, the woman, at the time a UCSB freshman living in Francisco Torres Towers, said she had three to four shots of vodka in her dorm room beginning between 5 and 6 p.m. From there she went to a party with her sister and two friends, where she consumed about two beers, she said. The group headed to another party around 10:30 p.m. where she drank some Captain Morgan’s rum. By that time her sister and the two friends she came with had left, and she had made plans to meet to more friends at a party on Del Playa Drive, the street which runs parallel next to the Pacific Ocean in Isla Vista. When she arrived at the party, the woman testified, she couldn’t get into the party, and several attempts to phone her two friends went unanswered. She said she met Frimpong in the driveway of the party house, and he too couldn’t get into the party. She had never met him before, nor had she heard of him, she said. He invited her back to his place where the two played beer pong. She lost quickly, she said, and refused to drink all of the beer she was supposed to as a result of losing the game, because she knew it was getting late and she knew she had a long walk ahead of her.
After the game, the woman said, the two headed to the beach. The accuser couldn’t remember whose idea it was to go to the beach, but said that even on the stairs descending to the beach, Frimpong was polite. “The next thing I remember clearly is being thrown to the ground,” she said, with tears welling up. “Did you have any concern about going to the beach?” Barron asked her, to which she replied, “A little, but because he had been so nice I didn’t think it was a problem.”
The witness admitted her memory of the sequence of events down on the beach was hazy, but she said she remembered screaming after being thrown to the ground, and the man putting his hand over her mouth. He also attempted to strangle her to keep her from yelling she said. She was on her back, with her arms pinned at a 90 degree angle, she testified. “At first I was trying to scream and then I couldn’t breathe anymore,” she said. The woman alleges that Frimpong told yelled at her to shut up at least twice. At some point she was hit on the right side of her head, and bitten on her cheek, she said. “Did you try to get up?” Barron asked her. “Yes,” she replied. “Could you?” Barron asked. “No.” “Why not?” Barron asked. “I wasn’t strong enough,” the woman said, bursting into tears.
Saying she had an idea of what her attacker was trying to do, she tried to squirm and move as much as she could. Her memory of what allegedly happened next was fuzzy, she said, but she said she her jeans and underwear were removed together, and then she felt herself being penetrated. At some point, she testified, she lost consciousness.
When she came to, she was crying, in the fetal position with her back to the cliffs, and her underwear and jeans about ten feet away. After dressing, she walked barefoot and without her purse back up to Del Playa, she said, where she stopped the first person she saw and borrowed his cell phone. “I wanted to go home,” she said. “I wanted to get out of where I was.”
Two friends she had been with earlier in the evening, Lakshmi Krishna and Mia Wolfson, picked her up not long after. The next thing she remembered was being in the hospital and her sister talking to a deputy from the sheriff’s department.
Hill ended the day at that point in Barron’s questioning, just before 4:30 p.m. The alleged victim, her friend and the victim witness coordinator made their way through the back chambers into the hall, while Frimpong exited out the back of the courtroom, where a large contingent of supporters had been all day. He received hugs and pats on the back, displaying little to no emotion after hearing his accuser’s testimony. Frimpong is facing one count of misdemeanor sexual assault and one count of felony sexual assault. The trial has thus far seen about a dozen people testify, including the two alleged victims in both counts, and is expected to extend into the middle of December. The alleged rape victim will take the stand again beginning Monday morning at 9 a.m. in Judge Hill’s Dept. 2 courtroom. It isn’t known whether or not Frimpong will take the stand.
The day opened with testimony from Benjamin Randall, now a 20-year-old second year student at Santa Barbara City College. Randall, who went to the same high school as the alleged victim, had an intimate relationship with her during the time of the incident. He testified that the two of them had last had sexual relations about a week before the incident, and that their physical relationship continued after. He had been hanging out with the alleged victim earlier in the night, but had left to go help out a friend on Del Playa. Randall testified that after helping out his friend, he was walking along Del Playa back to Steve’s house, when, at about 11:40 p.m. he saw the woman with a black man whom he didn’t recognize. After passing by, Randall called the woman to make sure she was okay, and he said she told him they were headed back to “Eric’s house to play beer pong. They might’ve been arm in arm, but I don’t remember exactly.”
Sanger asked Randall multiple times during the cross-examination if he turned around and followed Frimpong and the girl back to Frimpong’s house, but Randall said no, or if he watched them play beer pong or observed them from a nearby park, which he also denied. Randall testified that after speaking on the phone with the alleged victim, he decided not to go back to his friend’s house, but instead went back to his dorm off of El Colegio.
Sanger questioned Randall hard about his emotions when he saw the woman with the black man, assumed to be Frimpong. Sanger asked him if he was upset. “I might’ve been a little upset,” he said. “Not jealous, though, because we weren’t together so I had no reason to be. That she was with someone else, I guess you could call it jealous.”