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Rape trial Day 10

Jury finds Clay Conaway guilty of fourth-degree rape

Both families sob as verdict read
September 28, 2019

It took the jury about three hours to find Clay Conaway guilty of fourth-degree rape Sept. 27.

The Millsboro woman, 21, who filed first-degree rape against Conaway after she went over to his Georgetown home June 20, 2018, and said he raped her and injured her, quietly cried in the courtroom with her mother and stepfather. They left with no comment.

Fourth-degree rape has no minimum sentence but a maximum sentence of 15 years. The jury found Conaway, 23, guilty of the lesser charge after Sussex County Superior Court Judge Richard F. Stokes gave them the option to also find Conaway guilty of second-degree rape or fourth-degree rape. Fourth-degree rape means the jury found that Conaway digitally penetrated the woman without her consent. The woman testified that she said no when Conaway began fingering her - digital penetration.

Conaway’s family and friends openly sobbed as the jury decision was read, one relative left the courtroom yelling, “Liar.”

Sussex County Superior Court Judge Richard F. Stokes immediately revoked Conaway’s bond and remanded him to the Department of Corrections. Conaway was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. A prison notification service said he was committed to Sussex Correctional Institution.

Conaway had been out on $310,000 secured bond after his arrest following an August 2018 grand jury indictment. His defense attorney Joe Hurley said he did not know why Conaway’s bond was immediately revoked.

State prosecutors Casey Ewart and Rebecca Anderson declined to comment as they left the courthouse. Following the verdict, Attorney General Kathleen Jennings released a statement praising the prosecution team and the woman for standing up to what she believed was true.

“The message today is no means no,” Jennings said “I am grateful for the jury’s decision, for the work of our excellent trial team, for the investigative work of the Delaware State Police, and especially for the survivor of Mr. Conaway’s rape, who throughout this trial endured needless disrespect and insinuations about her integrity. Going through this kind of trial takes incredible strength, and I recognize the courage of the survivor for putting herself under a microscope to ensure that justice was served.”

Hurley, speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, said he expects to appeal the decision because Ewart said in her closing statement that Conaway was guilty. 

“Think about the world that we live in now, the millenial generation, a girl can go into a guy’s place knowing he wants to legit f*** her, and then says she’s raped. The jury doesn’t buy into that but also says she had a finger put in her and she didn’t want it put in her,” Hurley said, referring to a text message the woman had sent a friend. “I just walked out of a family that’s devasted and crying,” he said about the Conaway family.

This was the first trial against Conaway, and the only one on first-degree rape. Five other trials remain for charges that include second-degree rape, attempted second-degree rape and strangulation. A trial is scheduled in December, but no further details are available.