The alleged rapist’s DNA was not found inside her, but hers was found on him. That was the testimony of California Department of Justice criminologist Lillian Tugado, who took the stand Monday, July 9, during a preliminary hearing in the rape prosecution of UCSB soccer player Eric Frimpong. The citizen of Ghana stands accused of raping one fellow student and-in a separate incident being prosecuted as a misdemeanor sexual assault-grabbing the waist and butt of a second student while he and she were running together on the beach. Frimpong has denied any sexual contact whatsoever between himself and the alleged rape victim.
Tugado, who analyzed body swabs and other material submitted to her by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, said Frimpong’s DNA did not show up in biological samples taken from the alleged victim’s clothing and several places on her body. The only foreign DNA on her was from a lover, Benjamin Randall. However, samples taken from Frimpong’s fingernails and genitals matched the accuser’s DNA. Tugado said it was impossible to ascertain what kind of body cell that DNA was from-whether it was from sweat, saliva, vaginal fluid, or any other source. Because Monday’s proceedings were a preliminary hearing, designed merely to determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial, testimony was presented with minimal argument or exploration. Asked later, during a brief interview in the courthouse hallway, whether DNA could be transferred by shaking hands or other contact, then passed to another part of the body, Tugado replied, “It would depend on various factors.”
Also taking the stand on Tuesday was third-year UCSB student Krystal Giang, a friend of Frimpong’s whose testimony-if accurate, and combined with that of other friends and roommates who saw him on the evening of the alleged rape-would provide at least a partial alibi for Frimpong. Giang said that she and Frimpong were together, talking, at her apartment and at a neighbor’s, from about 1 a.m. until about 4 a.m. on Saturday, April 17, the morning of the alleged rape. Describing Frimpong as “a true gentleman,” Giang said that their relationship was nonsexual, that they drank no alcohol, and that their interaction that evening was “just one of those late-night conversations.”
Frimpong’s roommates testified during the first part of the preliminary hearing, on June 18, that Frimpong and the alleged rape victim dropped by for about 20 minutes at around midnight; Frimpong’s girlfriend testified that he arrived at her apartment to sleep at about 3:30 a.m. Meanwhile, at 1:15 a.m., the alleged victim-bruised, distraught, and drunk-flagged down a passerby on Del Playa Drive, using his cell phone to contact family members and the Sheriff’s Department. Frimpong, she said, had raped her on the beach, then left. The detectives testified that she had talked to Randall by phone at 11:30 p.m., when he saw her walking on Del Playa Drive with Frimpong.
Deputy District Attorney Mary Barron questioned Giang about the timing of the night’s events. Barron asked if Giang recalled talking to a detective about that night, and Giang said she remembered that the detective “said I was off by an hour or so” in her memory of when Frimpong first called her to say he was coming over. In an exchange interrupted by various objections from the defense, the prosecution, and the judge, Barron asked if Giang recalled the detective saying that there was a cell phone call from Frimpong to her at 1:34 a.m. The judge stopped Giang from answering that question, because it was based on hearsay, but Giang was allowed to add that she still believed Frimpong’s call came at about 12:30 a.m. rather than at 1:30 a.m.
There were no other references to that phone call during the preliminary hearing, at the conclusion of which Judge Brian Hill ruled that there was sufficient evidence to proceed to trial on both the felony rape and the misdemeanor battery charges.