A former University of Maryland basketball player accused of having sex with a drunk woman without her consent was acquitted Thursday of all rape and sex offense charges after two hours of deliberations by a Prince George’s County jury.
The case against Damonte Dodd, 25, turned on whether the 18-year-old he met at a College Park bar on Halloween two years ago was too drunk to agree to have sex with him.
Dodd, who recently played professional basketball in Poland, testified that although the woman had been drinking with him earlier, she was having coherent conversations with him and never explicitly said “no” to him before they had sex.
“There are no crimes on the book for having drunk sex,” Dodd’s attorney, Thomas C. Mooney, said Thursday in closing arguments.
The woman, who had taken cocaine and had several drinks the night she met Dodd, was vomiting on and off before they had sex, prosecutors said during the four-day trial. Dodd should have seen she was ill and lacked the capacity to agree to sex, they said. The woman also told Dodd she was too drunk to have sex, prosecutors told jurors.
“She did not have the mental capacity to consent, and that is rape,” said Melissa Hoppmeyer, an assistant state’s attorney for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office. “He knew how drunk she was and he just didn’t care.”
Dodd was charged with second-degree rape, third- and fourth-degree sexual offense and second-degree assault in the encounter that started the night of Oct. 31, 2017, and went into the morning of Nov. 1.
After the verdict, Dodd said he is in between contracts and will now focus on his basketball career.
“I’ve patiently waited to tell the truth and have my voice heard in court,” Dodd said. “It’s been a challenging 20 months living under a cloud of suspicion.”
Dodd graduated from the university in May 2017 and played for the Terps from 2013 to 2017.
Three months after his graduation, Dodd and his friends went to a bar on Halloween night. There, Dodd and the woman met, danced and drank before returning to the nearby apartment of a friend of Dodd’s. The woman had used a fake ID to get into the bar, Mooney said at trial.
Dodd testified the woman was “throwing signs” at him all night indicating her interest in him. She was dancing suggestively with him at the bar and was the one who said they should go to the apartment, Dodd testified.
“She could not give her consent,” Hoppmeyer said.
Dodd said the woman had vomited during the evening but appeared to him to have recovered and said that the two had had a conversation for at least 45 minutes before they had sex.
Mooney questioned the credibility of the woman’s allegations, saying she had initially told a sexual assault examiner she hadn’t taken any drugs that night but later admitted to police that she had taken cocaine.
“She misrepresented a very material fact to that examiner and that may have been fatal in a case based solely on credibility,” Mooney said after the verdict.
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha N. Braveboy said her office has successfully prosecuted many sex assault cases, which are challenging.
“We have the courage to take them on because we believe our victims,” Braveboy said in a statement. “We will continue to seek justice on behalf of all victims.”
At the apartment, Dodd testified, the woman was grabbing him and at one point as they began to have sex she said, “I don’t know if we should be doing this on the first night.” He said he got up and stopped, but that shortly after that she grabbed his shirt and drew him toward her again.
On the witness stand, the woman told jurors she had told Dodd she was “too drunk” and didn’t want to have sex, as Hoppmeyer summarized during closing arguments.
The woman was stumbling in the street after leaving the bar and later ran into a wall on the way to the apartment, Hoppmeyer said. Dodd should have taken these as clear signs that she was too incapacitated to consent to sex, the prosecutor said. Later, after leaving the apartment, a security camera in the lobby of the building captured an image of the woman walking out in tears.