The 21-year-old Millsboro woman at the center of the first-degree rape trial of Clay Conaway told jurors Sept. 17 about how the two first met on social media, leading up to the alleged assault at his Georgetown home.
After a breakup with a boyfriend, the woman said, she signed up for dating sites such as Bumble, where she was matched with Conaway, a University of Delaware baseball player at the time.
“[He] seemed somewhat out of my league. I didn't imagine he would want to get to know me,” the woman said after being questioned about why she shared pictures and text messages from Conaway with her friends.
Messages between the woman and one friend continued in a jovial fashion even after Conaway sent her a full frontal nude photo of himself.
“Now I know what he's on Bumble for,” she messaged the friend. In another text, she laughed about his size.
“I could tell he wasn't on there to necessarily date,” she testified in court.
As the two prepared to meet in person, the woman's texts reflected some hesitancy because, she said, she was experiencing menstrual cramps.
Testimony with the woman will continue at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 18, in Sussex County Superior Court.
Before the woman took the stand, two of her friends testified about what happened June 20 after the woman went to Conaway's home in Georgetown.
Carey Karl, 21, of Lewes, who has been friends with the woman since they were in ninth grade together at Cape Henlopen High School, said she didn't recognize her friend's voice when she called Karl in tears after leaving Conaway's home.
The woman drove to Cape High where Karl had been coaching a field hockey team, and the two stayed in Karl's car for about an hour while the woman told Karl what happened. Karl said the woman told her that they were making out and he put his hands in her pants. “The next thing she knew it wasn't his hands anymore,” Karl said.
While in Karl's car, she said, the woman called her therapist and her mother, who told her daughter to go to Beebe Healthcare. After calling ahead to a friend on staff, Karl said, they were brought in and she stayed with her friend while a rape kit was administered. The woman was hysterical, Karl said. “She was squeezing my hand really hard like it was causing her pain,” she said about the procedure.
Before going to Beebe, the woman also called a friend she had met on Tinder a few weeks earlier to tell him that she thought she had been raped.
Brendan Goodson, 26, now living in Charlotte, N.C., said the woman told him he was the first person she had called to tell about the sexual assault. “I was kind of surprised by the whole situation,” he said. “She may have seen me as someone she could talk to.”
Conaway was indicted by a grand jury in August 2018 on a charge of first-degree rape. After his 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, since Sussex County Superior Court Judge Richard F. Stokes granted a request by defense attorneys Natalie Woloshin and Joe Hurley to separate the trials instead of holding one single trial for all criminal counts.
Ruling Sept. 17 on another defense motion, Stokes said a medical publication on fibromyalgia – a condition medical records show the woman experienced – could not be submitted in lieu of an expert witness, and therefore state prosecutors Casey Ewart and Rebecca Anderson cannot use a Beebe Healthcare expert witness that they had not disclosed earlier.
Editor’s note: It is the Cape Gazette’s policy to not publish names of sexual assault victims.