The woman accusing Clay Conaway of strangulation and attempted second-degree rape took the stand on the second day of the trial as the defense played a video recording of her interview with Newark police.
The woman, 22, and her mother met with an officer in October 2018 to talk about the November 2017 incident when the woman went to Conaway’s off-campus home after the two University of Delaware students met on the Tinder dating app. At the beginning of the interview, the officer said that there had been a Title IX complaint filed by another woman against Conaway before the woman filed hers, alleging sexual violence. Following Conaway’s indictment in August 2018 on first-degree rape for an incident that happened in Georgetown, the University of Delaware said he is no longer on campus but provided no further details.
In a video interview played in the Wilmington courtroom Feb. 13, the woman describes the house and room where Conaway lived with other members of the University of Delaware baseball team. She said his room was large, with a big bed, two couches and signatures on the wall from past players including Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Chad Kuhl and even Conaway’s father, who had played baseball for UD. She said his room was also full of trophies and awards. “All his achievements and accomplishments everywhere,” she said.
The woman said Conaway had invited her over to watch a movie, and the two talked about their past relationships. “He also just got out of a relationship, and he’s not looking for anything serious right now because he’s trying to get over it,” she said. As he played some music, the woman said she asked him what musicians he can’t stand, and he told her “Every female country artist ever.”
The attack happened quickly and out of the blue, the woman said. After a quick kiss, she said, his expression changed, and he had a “fixed look in his eyes.” He threw her across the bed, causing her to bang her head on the headboard and then straddled her while he groped her. She said she told him she didn’t want to have sex with him, and then he choked her for eight to 10 seconds, and she couldn’t breathe. Using all her might, she said, she tried to tell him to stop, and he let go. When she asked him what he was doing, she said he replied, “Oh, I thought all girls were into that.”
He grabbed his phone to text a message, she said, and then two of his roommates entered the room and escorted her outside.
Defense attorney Diane Coffey questioned the woman on the stand, grilling her about details such as what Conaway was wearing and the lighting and layout of the room. The woman dabbed her eyes and glanced into the audience several times as she struggled to recall details that she had told the jury the day earlier.
Coffey continued questioning her about the layout of Conaway’s room, and the wall of baseball player signatures she told police about during her 2018 interview. Under questioning, the woman said she could not recall seeing the signatures. “I possibly saw it. I really don’t know,” she said, while dabbing her eyes with tissue. “He definitely pointed it out.”
Following the afternoon break before the jury returned to the courtroom, Superior Court Judge Richard Stokes questioned the woman about whether her parents, both attorneys, had coached her about what to say and whether she discussed the case with them. The woman said no, and Stokes asked her to step out of the courtroom. Stokes then asked her father whether he had used his cellphone to communicate with anyone about the case while court was in session. The woman’s mother is a potential witness, and she has so far waited outside the courtroom during the trial. The man did not answer the question but said he felt ill, and pitched forward as if he were going to pass out. A shocked Conaway was led out of the room, and medical personnel were called as the man sat in the witness chair with his head on the table. After Stokes said he would not question him further, the man perked up and said he felt better. He walked back to his seat in the courtroom, but defense attorney Joe Hurley told the judge that the man may be called as a witness, and Hurley asked that the man leave the courtroom, which he did.
Testimony resumes at 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 14, in New Castle Superior Court in Wilmington.