After nearly a year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Clay Conaway was sentenced to a year in prison after being convicted in February of third-degree unlawful sexual contact, a misdemeanor.
Mat Marshall, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said Conaway, 24, will serve his sentence consecutively with a previous sentence of five years after being convicted of fourth-degree rape in September 2019.
Conaway’s sentencing was carried out over Zoom after being delayed by the pandemic. It brought resolution to the second of six possible trials Conaway faces on sexual assault charges the state alleges took place between 2013 and 2018.
A Sussex Central High School graduate and former University of Delaware baseball player, Conaway had faced charges of strangulation and attempted second-degree rape at the February 2020 trial held at Delaware Superior Court in Wilmington. While Conaway’s first conviction and subsequent trials are to take place in Sussex County, this one was conducted in New Castle County because that is where the crime took place.
Conaway was accused of assaulting and strangling a then 20-year-old coed in 2017. Prosecutors alleged that Conaway met the woman through the dating app Tinder. When the woman went to Conaway’s rooming house, she testified that Conaway grabbed her and threw her on the bed, tried to choke her and then tried to have sex with her. Conaway’s defense attorneys questioned her recollection of details that were in the room, and the incident was the result of misunderstandings and mixed signals.
Conaway faced a mandatory 10 years to life in prison if convicted of attempted second-degree rape and an additional eight years if convicted of strangulation. However, the jury found him not guilty on those charges but guilty on a lesser offense of third-degree unlawful sexual contact.
A date for Conaway’s next trial has not been set. Prosecutors originally sought to try all six cases together, but Judge Richard F. Stokes, who presided at the first trial, sided with the defense and called for six separate trials.
Conaway was indicted in August 2018, by a grand jury on first-degree rape for an incident at his Georgetown home. He pleaded not guilty to the first-degree charge; by the end of September 2018, five more women claimed he assaulted them between 2013 and 2018, resulting in five counts of second-degree rape. One woman eventually dropped her case, but in November 2018 Conaway was indicted on strangulation and attempted second-degree rape, the charges he faced in the latest trial. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
In September 2019, Conaway was convicted of fourth-degree rape, a lesser charge offered in his first-degree rape trial. Stokes sentenced Conaway in November 2019 to five years of prison, and he has since been incarcerated at Sussex Correctional Institution. Conaway still faces four more trials on second-degree rape charges.