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Rape trial day 6

Video shows police interview of Conaway

During questioning, defendant says accuser did not say stop
September 24, 2019

In a video interview of Clay Conaway recorded after he was indicted on first-degree rape in 2018, Conaway’s account is similar to the testimony of his accuser – except he says it was consensual.

Prosecutors played a video of the interview on the sixth day of Conaway's first-degree rape trial in Sussex County Superior Court Sept. 23. After giving Conaway his Miranda rights, Delaware State Police Detective David Kristunas chatted with Conaway about events leading up to the alleged attack.

The two talked about living at University of Delaware, where Conaway was a starting pitcher on the baseball team, and progressed to discussions about dating and using social media to find dates.

The detective asked Conaway about a girl who had come to his home, an apartment in Georgetown located behind his parents' home, but Conaway was unsure who it was until the detective said the name of the Millsboro woman, who was 20 at the time of the incident.

“We didn't have sex,” Conaway said, as he described watching a movie and hanging out with the woman. “We were just going to watch a movie and hang out and get to know each other.”

Conaway offered a timeline similar to the one provided by his accuser earlier in the trial: they kissed; he fondled her, but then she had a panic attack.  As the detective offered details the accuser had provided, Conaway tells him, “Our stories are pretty freaking similar.” 

The woman earlier testified that she told Conaway to stop, but Conaway told the detective she never said no.

“We made out, she never said stop,” he said in the video.

Conaway said he remembers the woman telling him she suffers from panic attacks, and that she started hyperventilating and told him she needed some time. In the video, he puts his hands on his head and appears upset as the detective told him the woman said he violated her. “Come on,” he said at one point.

“She's a nice girl. I don't understand why she's saying this,” he said.

Conaway denied several times that he ejaculated during the incident, or that that there had been penile penetration.

But after Kristunas told him he wanted to talk to him alone without his parents after the Aug. 20, 2018 grand jury indictment – so as not to upset Conaway's mother, he said – Conaway continued with explicit details. He insisted that penetration was digitally. “Man to man,” Conaway said, “I think you can tell the difference between a finger and a penis.”

“If it went farther than what you told me, it's OK,” Kristunas said. “It's the heat of the moment … the natural progression is to have sex.”

Conaway eventually said he did ejaculate on the woman’s stomach, but he withheld the information because he didn't want to seem weird.

“I didn't want to seem like a weirdo … jacking off while this was going on,” he told the detective.

Throughout the interview, Conaway repeatedly said the woman never indicated she wasn't enjoying herself.

At one point, he said, he shared photos and a video of a Range Rover that his parents were shopping for in Annapolis. “She said she liked this one … I don't understand what happened,” he said.

Other conversations included talking about her new dad, he said, and that she had only had sex with one person.

During the video interview, Kristunas told Conaway that they found DNA inside the woman.

However, earlier Sept. 23, a forensic scientist testified that she could not determine DNA found during a rape exam of the woman was Conaway's. The exam was conducted hours after the alleged attack June 20.

“There was male DNA in the vagina, but we couldn't determine whose,” said Sarah Lindauar, senior forensic DNA analyst for the Division of Forensic Science. No sperm cells were detected inside the woman, Lindauar said.

A swab taken of the woman's stomach, where she testified Conaway had ejaculated, was inconclusive whether the DNA was from sperm cells, or something else such as perspiration, hair or skin cells, Lindauar said.

Under questioning by defense attorney Joe Hurley about whether Lindauar could say Conaway penily penetrated the woman, she said, “No, I can't say that.”

After Conaway's 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 Judge Richard F. Stokes granted a request by defense attorneys to separate the trials instead of holding a single trial on all criminal counts.

By the end of August 2018, Conaway was no longer listed on the University of Delaware baseball roster; a spokeswoman at the time would not comment any further about his status, but said Conaway is no longer on campus.

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