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Rape trial Day 5

Accuser’s testimony continues for third day in Conaway case

Defense questioning takes aim at inconsistencies
September 21, 2019

The 21-year-old Millsboro woman who says she was raped by Clay Conaway faced questions about discrepancies in her account of the alleged attack during her third and final day of questioning by Conaway’s defense attorney Sept. 20.

Following the June 20, 2018 incident, the woman was interviewed by a Delaware State Police detective two times, June 21 and 26. Based on a social media exchange with a friend, cited by the defense, she said she was “all jumbled up” about what happened, and she told the detective that she couldn’t remember some details of the incident, such as when her underwear came off or when she got on top of Conaway.

In one interview with the detective, she told him she did not touch Conaway’s genitalia; in the other interview, she said she did. Likewise, she gave one statement to the detective that she could tell the difference between penetration digitally or by a penis during the alleged attack; in the other statement she said she could not. 

Her voice was curt at times; at other times she was timid, with her head shaking up and down. At one point, she appeared to cry silently as she answered defense attorney Natalie Woloshin’s sharp line of questioning. Her demeanor answering Woloshin’s questioning was a contrast to her assured and clear voice when Deputy Attorney General Rebecca Anderson asked her to read the written statement she gave a detective following the alleged June 20 assault.

Under further questioning by the prosecution about what happened after the woman drove to Conaway’s house in Georgetown and went inside, the woman succinctly answered “the defendant” to a string of questions that included who led her into the bedroom, who told her to get on the bed, who took off her clothes and who sexually assaulted her.

The defense countered that the woman made a choice to go to his house when she knew he only wanted to have sex with her, and she chose to do all the things he asked her to do.

Referring to the written statement the woman had read earlier on the stand, Woloshin pointed out that the woman wrote that she asked Conaway what he was doing, but never told him no.

“Where in there did you write no?” Woloshin asked.

“I didn’t write it,” the woman answered. 

In an earlier statement, the woman said she told Conaway no several times. “I was trying to squirm away ... I said no, stop,” she said, reading a statement from the stand.

Woloshin then questioned her about a number of social media exchanges she had with her friends in which she explicitly talked about having sex. Although the woman chalked up her explicit social media exchanges as “just girl talk,” Woloshin showed texts in which the woman talked about driving to Long Beach Island to have sex with a guy she had just met at Firefly - a music festival held June 14-17, 2018, in Dover.

In another message, she said waiting two months for the next music festival is too long to wait for sex, and in a text sent 9:30 a.m., the morning of the alleged assault, she said, she knew Clay wanted to have sex with her, ending the message with lmfao - a laughing reference.

In earlier defense questioning, the woman said she told people she had fibromyalgia, a condition that causes pain all over her body, because that’s what she feels. “I’ve never been diagnosed with it,” she said. “I mainly try not to exert myself.” Just bumping into someone can cause her pain, she said, and she takes over-the-counter Motrin for the pain. 

Three days before she went to Conaway’s house, the woman said she had gone to Firefly where, she said, she spent about 12 hours a day walking, dancing, sitting on someone’s shoulders at one point, and “grinding” with a guy another time.

After the festival, she told a guy she met there that “I feel like I’m 85 and need a double hip replacement.”

She later testified that she was exaggerating about the hip pain, but not about the fibromyalgia pain.

Two days after the alleged attack, the woman went to Beebe Healthcare where she was diagnosed with hip pain and prescribed over-the-counter ibuprofen. She had also gone to Beebe the night of the attack and was examined by a sexual assault nurse. The nurse found no visible marks or bruises, and upon discharge, the nurse testified the woman rated her pain at zero. 

Testimony is expected to continue Monday, Sept. 23, at Sussex County Superior Court. Although Judge Richard F. Stokes originally said the trial was expected to run through Wednesday, Sept. 25, it could last longer. 

The prosecution has several witnesses it could call; defense attorney Joe Hurley said the defense might call Conaway and his mother, Beth Conaway, to testify.

Conaway, 23, was indicted by a grand jury in August 2018 on a charge of first-degree rape. After his arrest, five other women came forward with charges including second-degree rape and strangulation. This is the first of six trials that will be held after Stokes granted a request by defense attorneys to separate the trials instead of holding a single trial on all criminal counts.

Editor’s note: It is the Cape Gazette’s policy to not publish names of sexual assault victims.