Jordan Johnson, the former star quarterback at the University of Montana, is accused of raping a classmate and former acquaintance. Taking the stand on Wednesday, he insisted he is not guilty. It's being called a classic case of "he-said-she-said," playing out now in a Montana courtroom.
"We had consensual sex and I would never do that to anyone," he said.
The case has divided the university and surrounding college town of Missoula in western Montana, and it comes down to this crucial discrepancy: Johnson, 20, said he had consensual sex with his classmate. She said it was rape.
The incident happened last February, but the 21-year-old alleged victim, whose name is not being reported, didn't tell authorities Johnson raped her until more than a month after the night of the incident. "He grabbed onto my hips and he started pulling my body into his just again and again and again," the alleged victim testified in court. "It hurt so bad."
The accuser told authorities that the two had spent time together before the incident but were still getting to know each other. According to her affidavit, she sent a text message to a friend shortly after the incident, saying, "Omg, I think I might have just gotten raped ... he kept pushing and pushing and I said no but he wouldn't listen."
The next day, according to court documents, she went to the University of Montana Student Assault Resource Center and then had a medical exam, where the prosecution said bruises were discovered.
Johnson admitted that, on the night of the incident, he initiated contact with the woman via a text that said, "hey." He said she later invited him to watch a movie in her room and ultimately picked him up. Johnson testified that he had consumed four or five beers at the time and didn't want to drive.
He said about 15 minutes into watching the movie in her room, they started kissing on her bed and things quickly escalated.
"She asked me if I had a condom," Johnson said. "I said, 'no,' and she said, 'It's OK.'"
He then testified that they had sex, but that there was no resistance and she seemed into it. If she had shown any reluctance, Johnson said, "I would have stopped."
But according to her account, she didn't want to have sex that night and told police she repeatedly told him, "No, not tonight."
"I just wanted to really get to know him," the alleged victim testified in court. "I didn't really hang out with him since a year prior."
The prosecution argued that shortly after Johnson arrived in her room, things got ugly, that Johnson positioned himself on top of the alleged victim and became aggressive.
She said he told her, "turn over or I'll make you," and then flipped her over and raped her. Johnson admitted that at one point, he did turn her over but that they were just changing positions. Johnson's defense attorney was quick to point out that it was Johnson's impression that she was enjoying it because "she was moaning."
Johnson is charged with sexual intercourse without consent -- a felony with a maximum sentence of 100 years in prison. While defendants are not required to testify in a criminal trial, Johnson told jurors today he wants people to know what happened.
The defense described the victim as a spurned woman who was jealous of a relationship Johnson was having with another woman he recently started seeing. They pointed to the alleged victim's conflicting text messages to support their argument. In one text to a friend, the alleged victim wrote, "I don't think he did anything wrong," and in a message to a friend on Facebook, she wrote, "maybe I wanted it."
"When she says, 'I don't think he did anything wrong,' even if you put that into context, even if you explain why she would have said that, that's a real problem for prosecutors in this case," ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams said.
The defense also argued the alleged victim's long delay in reporting the incident is significant, but psychologists said it is not unusual for victims to wait before coming forward.
"It is common for survivors to delay reporting to police, they may be blaming themselves or have fear of the unknown," said Katherine Hull, a spokeswoman for RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
Rape is said to be the most common violent crime on American college campuses today. In the overwhelming majority of those cases, the rape is by an acquaintance, not a stranger. According to the National Institute of Justice, as many as 90 percent of college women who are victims of rape or attempted rape say they knew their assailant.
"Every two minutes somebody in the U.S. is sexually assaulted and nearly half of survivors are under the age of 18," Hull said. "Women in their college years are at the highest risk of this crime."
Guilty or not, the allegation has been life-changing for the former starting quarterback, suspending his promising football career. He led the Montana Grizzlies to an 11-3 season as a sophomore and threw 21 touchdown passes in his last season.
"It's very hard to deal with. Not just me but my family. I don't even remember what it's like to be normal," Johnson said in court.
The case is playing out against the backdrop of investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and the NCAA, and it has made national headlines, with some calling it "trial by Twitter" because bloggers are feverishly tweeting play-by-play updates about every word and movement in the courtroom.
But it's a jury that will decide the case as early as Friday.
- Crime & Justice
- Politics & Government
- the University of Montana