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Day 3 Clay Conaway trial

Defense questions details of alleged attack

Woman sobs on stand while describing incident
February 16, 2020

The defense continued questioning Feb. 14 focusing on previous interviews given by the woman who says Clay Conaway strangled and tried to rape her.

Using an interview the woman gave Newark police in October 2018, a Title IX complaint she filed with the University of Delaware against Conaway, a January 2020 interview with prosecutors, and testimony from the trial now in its third day, defense attorney Diane Coffey continued to ask the woman about details of Conaway’s room and events leading up to the alleged attack. 

The woman, 22, said she didn’t notice anything wrong when she went to his home after meeting him on Tinder, and followed him upstairs to a darkened room. “I thought he was completely normal,” she said about Conaway, who was a pitcher for the University of Delaware baseball team.

Under testimony, she said he mostly talked about his ex-girlfriend and their long-distance relationship, but Coffey pointed out that in a previous interview, the woman said she “couldn’t stop talking about her relationship.”

The woman also could not say which wall had signatures of previous University of Delaware baseball players, or where Conaway’s trophies and awards were located in the room - among several details she could not recall.

The woman told the jury she was still OK with what was happening when the two had a long kiss - a kiss that she called a peck in earlier testimony that preceded Conaway picking her up and throwing her onto the bed.

Using the October 2018 interview with Newark police, Coffey asked the woman what she meant when she told police that Conaway tried to reel her in. 

“It didn’t dawn on you that he was trying to reel you in to have sex with you?” Coffey asked.

No, the woman said defensively, while recalling more details in the roughly 30 to 40 minutes leading up to the alleged attack.

“You skipped all that when you wanted to talk about the throwing on the bed,” Coffey said. She then scrutinized conflicting statements of how she got on the bed.

The woman had told the jury Conaway picked her up at the waist and threw her on the bed, but in a 2018 interview, she told police he pushed her by the hip.

“Was your memory better then or now?” Coffey asked.

The woman cried, raised her voice and crossed her arms as she retold the attack that she said left her with marks around her neck and gasping for air when he tried to strangle her.

“I was so distraught about what was happening, I couldn’t just think of one thing,” she said as Coffey questioned her about details she has given during the trial that she had not provided to police or prosecutors previously. “When this is going on, you have nothing to do but to fight.”

The woman said she did not seek medical attention for her neck, but she was sore and left shocked by what happened.

During a break in which the jury was out of the courtroom, defense attorneys raised a concern with Superior Court Judge Richard Stokes about the woman’s mother, an attorney and potential witness, who was heard speaking loudly, potentially about the case, with her daughter, they said.

“I heard her say something to do with the way she is being treated,” said Nathalie Woloshin, a defense attorney for Conaway’s first rape trial, but who was attending the second trial as an observer only. Woloshin said the mother was screaming.

A social worker who is assisting the woman said the mother was worried about her daughter’s health and raised her voice because she could see her daughter had been crying.

“The mother was pretty upset,” the social worker said. “I attempted to calm her down, which wasn’t working.”

The social worker said nothing was discussed about the case, and the mother did not coach the daughter on what to do or say on the witness stand. 

“She was reacting to her daughter’s emotions,” the social worker said. “I let them vent, and encouraged them to remain calm.”

The previous day, Stokes questioned the woman’s father, also an attorney, about using his cellphone to communicate in the courtroom. Testimony continues at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 17, in New Castle County Superior Court in Wilmington.

This is the second trial of six that Conaway could face following indictments by six women in 2018 on charges of first-degree rape, second-degree rape, strangulation and attempted second-degree rape. In his first trial on first-degree rape held in Georgetown, he was found guilty of fourth-degree rape. He was sentenced to five years prison in November 2019 and has been incarcerated since then.