Article Published Friday June 15, 2007.
At the first session of his hearing yesterday, Eric Frimpong’s girlfriend told the court that the UCSB soccer player said he felt drugged the morning before his arrest on charges of alleged rape in Isla Vista.
Frimpong’s girlfriend Yesenia Prieto, a second-year psychology major, testified before the Santa Barbara Superior Court along with a small number of police investigators and several of Frimpong’s friends and roommates. Frimpong, a native of Ghana and a member of UCSB’s 2006 national championship soccer team, was arrested on Feb. 17 and received an additional charge of sexual assault a week later after another woman came forward to allege Frimpong of sexual battery. The second session of the hearing will take place July 9 as a result of a continuance granted by Judge Brian Hill.
During the hearing, Prieto, Frimpong’s girlfriend of one year, said he came to her house in the early morning period of Feb. 17 and appeared worried and dazed. According to Prieto, Frimpong had told her that he believed he was drugged.
Frimpong’s roommates, Brandon Hale and Patrick Monahan, also testified at the hearing. Hale, a second-year geography major who lived with Frimpong on Del Playa Drive, said he had only seen Frimpong for a few brief moments throughout the evening of Feb. 16.
“My sister was down visiting for her birthday that weekend,” Hale said. “I was showing her and her friend around I.V.”
He said he first saw Frimpong at a friend’s residence in I.V. during a small get-together.
“We weren’t really partying,” Hale said. “I had one beer that night. It was a gathering of people but not a party per se … I saw Frimpong at 11 p.m. He sat on the couch. By the time he came there was nothing left to drink as far as alcohol goes … I had about three ounces of alcohol left in my cup. He said he was thirsty so I gave him my cup.”
When he saw Frimpong once more during the evening, Hale said he appeared relatively fine. According to Hale, a young woman of Asian descent was also present by the table, but Frimpong did not talk to her.
“I remember seeing him in our backyard closer to 12 a.m.,” he said. “He was in the backyard by the beer pong table … He did not seem intoxicated. He striked me as being sober.”
At 1:15 a.m., Prieto woke Hale, asking where Frimpong was.
“She was somewhat intoxicated,” Hale said. “She talked about roommate issues … Eric was not sleeping in the room.”
Earlier in the hearing, District Attorney Mary Barron invoked the penal code, requesting that the alleged sexual assault victims remain anonymous, referring to the individuals as “Jane Doe One” and “Jane Doe Two.” Judge Hill agreed to the request, despite an objection from defense attorney Robert Sanger who said the action was unfair.
“Preliminary hearings used to be closed,” Sanger said. “I don’t think part of it should be opened and part of it closed.”
During the proceedings, Sanger also requested a continuance in order to allow the defense attorney more time to prepare for cross-examinations of Barron’s DNA experts.
Barron objected to the continuance, and said it was inconvenient as one of her experts was flying in from Oakland to testify.
“I don’t see why he hasn’t had enough time to prepare since May 22,” Barron said.
Despite Barron’s objection, Judge Hill granted a continuance of the hearing for July 9.
Frimpong, who was accused of raping a woman on a beach below the 6500 block of Del Playa Drive, is currently out on a $250,000 bail.