Crime & Courts

Rape trial for former UNCC quarterback will last into October, judge says

Jury selection began Wednesday in the trial of former UNC Charlotte quarterback Kevin Olsen, who has been charged with three counts of second-degree rape in connection with an alleged attack on his then-girlfriend in February 2017.

The trial will last about two and a half weeks, ending around Oct. 5, Superior Court Judge Karen Eady-Williams told prospective jurors.

Olsen, 23, pleaded not guilty in September 2017. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison for each rape charge.

Almost as soon as jury selection began, a juror broke down in tears. She told the court she had personal experience with sexual assault and wasn’t sure she could be a juror in a case like this. She was dismissed and left the courtroom crying.

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Between questions about the prospective jurors’ lives and their experiences with crime and court, Assistant District Attorney Kristen Northrup read the jury pool a list of potential witnesses who might appear in court, including Olsen and his brother, Carolina Panther Greg Olsen.

One juror tentatively announced that she knew the name Greg Olsen.

“You don’t know him personally?” Northrup asked.

When the juror said no, Northrup moved on. Later, she told jurors Greg Olsen plays for the Panthers.

In the afternoon, three prospective jurors were dismissed because they said they thought Olsen was guilty and probably couldn’t put that feeling aside.

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After the jury pool left the courtroom at 5 p.m., Olsen’s attorney George Laughrun said the entire pool was tainted because they had heard those jurors’ comments about guilt. He asked Eady-Williams to start again Thursday with a new jury pool. Eady-Williams refused.

The alleged victim did not appear in court Wednesday. The Observer does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

Northrup questioned prospective jurors for most of the day Wednesday, and Olsen’s attorneys are likely to begin their round of jury questioning sometime Thursday.

Jane Wester: 704-358-5128, @janewester