On the afternoon before she says Kevin Olsen raped her, his then girlfriend sent the former UNC Charlotte quarterback an ultimatum.
No more cheating, she wrote in a series of text messages.
“Baby, one more time ... you’re dating me and only me. I refuse to share,” she wrote, according to copies of the messages presented during the second day of Olsen’s rape trial. “You need to think about how much you want this. This is the last chance I can give.”
Olsen’s response: “Baby, I understand. I won’t let you down.”
About 12 hours later, the former UNC Charlotte student said a drunken Olsen, who is a foot taller and outweighed her at the time by almost 100 pounds, first beat then raped her in the bedroom of the off-campus home he shared with four other 49er football players. She said the attacks followed a night of heavy drinking by the pair, which bottomed out back at Olsen’s house when she said he tried to strangle himself with a phone charger cord.
After the alleged assaults, according to her testimony, she waited for Olsen to fall asleep before putting on some of his clothes and fleeing to the bedroom of one of his roommates.
Olsen is being tried on three counts of second-degree rape, among other sexual assault charges. If convicted by the nine men and three women of his jury, the 23-year-old brother of Panthers tight end Greg Olsen faces up to 10 years in prison for each rape count.
Based on the opening days of testimony, the trial will unfold against a backdrop of a college social scene defined by sex, texts, infidelity, heavy drinking, and in this case, an alleged outbreak of violence.
Olsen’s accuser, now 25 and living in Winston-Salem, spent parts of two days on the witness stand, describing her tumultuous relationship with the former athlete in highly intimate detail while the families of both watched from the front rows of the Mecklenburg courtroom.
The Observer does not identify the alleged victims of sexual violence, and Superior Court Judge Karen Eady-Williams has banned reporters from photographing or videoing Olsen’s accuser while she is in the courtroom. Any audio recordings featuring her testimony must also alter her voice.
On Tuesday, she underwent two hours of pointed questioning from Olsen’s lead attorney, George Laughrun, who challenged her allegations, her credibility and her motives for bringing charges against the man she said she had once hoped to marry.
Laughrun also highlighted what he argued were a series of factual discrepancies in the accuser’s testimony on Monday compared to what she earlier told police and UNCC investigators.
For example, the woman told the jury on Monday that Olsen penetrated her three times without her consent during the early morning hours of Feb. 19, 2017. According to the subsequent campus sexual assault investigation, the woman said Olsen and her had sex four times, and that she had participated in the final act.
“You didn’t tell police that, did you?” Laughrun said. “You didn’t tell this jury, did you?”
“I did not,” the woman replied.
Laughrun attempted to portray the accuser as being desperate to stay in the relationship, showing the jury dozens of texts she continued to send Olsen even after the alleged attacks.
In an earlier text message read to the jury, the woman said she hoped to be the same kind of wife to Kevin Olsen as Greg Olsen’s wife has been for him.
“You loved him, but you loved where he took you. Isn’t that right?” Laughrun said. “You liked going to Panthers’ games. You liked being in the box ... You liked going home with him for Christmas. You liked hanging out with his family.
“And it was all slipping away, wasn’t it?
The accuser shot back: “If I really wanted to stay with him because of his family, I would have gotten back in his bed that night and never left.”
At times, the exchanges turned even more biting.
Laughrun homed in on what the accuser had described as her initial confusion over whether a sexual assault had even occurred: a text she sent to a friend in which she said Olsen was not a rapist.
He also questioned why she initially believed she could not have been raped by someone she was dating despite having completed a UNCC class only weeks before that included instruction on healthy relationships and sexual assault.
“I was in love and in denial ... it was very hard walking away from him,” the accuser said, adding that she had wanted to help Olsen deal with his personal problems of alcohol and drug abuse.
“You’re trying to help him by going down to the police station and accusing him of rape?” Laughrun fired back. “Him going to prison, that would be helping him?”
In another exchange, Laughrun questioned the accuser’s account on what actually happened in Olsen’s bedroom: If all of what she said is true — from Olsen’s attempted suicide to the alleged beating and rapes — why did none of Olsen’s roommates or their girlfriends come to Olsen’s bedroom to ask, “Is everything OK in there?”
“Obviously no one else in the house heard it,” she said.
Maybe there was another explanation, Laughrun offered: That none of the events she described happened at all.
Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095; @MikeGordonOBS