Jurors listened to opening statements as well as testimony from an alleged sexual assault victim yesterday during the first trial date of former UCSB soccer player Eric Frimpong.
Frimpong stands trial for two separate charges – a misdemeanor sexual assault charge and a felony rape charge for which he was originally arrested for on Feb. 17. Following opening statements, Deputy District Attorney Mary Barron began presenting the case against Frimpong.
During the trial, a 19-year-old student testified that she allegedly met the defendant shortly after 1 a.m. on Jan. 28, 2007, on the 6500 block of Del Playa. The alleged victim said that she and Frimpong headed down to the beach to run around and spend time together. After running up and down the deserted beach, she said Frimpong allegedly placed his hands around her waist and that she did not object.
She also said that Frimpong then allegedly slid his hands down onto her backside until she objected and removed his hands from her behind. She then testified that Frimpong continued to allegedly lower his hands despite her protests.
After Frimpong’s alleged third attempt to grope her, the alleged victim said she tried to run away until the defendant allegedly chased her down and tackled her from behind. She said she got up again and continued to run, but that Frimpong did not chase her a second time.
The incident allegedly happened three weeks before Frimpong was arrested for an alleged rape of another woman, but was not reported until after charges were filed in the separate case. The alleged assault victim said she was hesitant to report the crime, feeling that doing so was not prudent. However, she said that after she read about Frimpong’s arrest in the Daily Nexus, she consulted friends and family and decided to report the event to the authorities.
She also said that during the alleged incident, she dropped her phone and left her purse behind. She said Frimpong allegedly picked up both the phone and the purse and then dialed the last number in the phone and told the woman’s friend that he had her phone. The next day, the woman said she allegedly contacted Frimpong via Facebook, asking for her phone and purse back. She said Frimpong allegedly did not respond for over a week and a half and then returned the purse on Feb. 7.
The alleged victim also testified that she had consumed five shots of vodka prior to the incident. No information concerning the sobriety of the defendant was presented.
In a cross-examination, Frimpong’s lawyer Robert Sanger questioned the witness’ memory of the night and attempted to show that the alleged victim had previously met the defendant. The two had previously met at the sidelines after a soccer match, but the woman told the lawyer that they had not spoken to each other aside from a possible “good game.” Sanger then attempted to prove that the two had once met in front of the library, but the alleged victim said she had no recollection of any such meeting.
The defense also brought to the attention of the jury one particular Facebook conversation between the woman and her sister. In it, the woman wrote that she was frustrated that Frimpong would allegedly not return her phone and purse and said that he could “suck it.” She then said that after she got her phone back, she was “going to be such a bitch to him.” The alleged victim’s sister took the stand after her and testified that she felt her sibling was only joking when she wrote that.