Crime & Courts

Details of alleged assault drive Kevin Olsen’s accuser from courtroom in tears

With the accuser in Kevin Olsen’s rape trial sitting a few feet away, her former roommate recounted what her then-best friend had shared a few hours after the alleged attack.

“She told me that he beat the s--- out of her,” Hayley Reynolds said.

The former UNC Charlotte student then corroborated much of the accuser’s testimony: How on the early morning of Feb. 19, 2017, a drunken Olsen had tried to hang himself in the bathroom of his off-campus home with the chord of a cellphone charger; how in the bedroom his despondence had quickly changed to fury, and he started to beat his girlfriend, blackening her eye and bruising her arms and stomach; how he then demanded sex.

Reynolds then testified that her roommate told her that while she was on top of Olsen, holding her injured eye, her boyfriend erupted again, telling her that “he couldn’t have sex with her while she was crying.”

That last detail drew a wrenching sob from Olsen’s accuser, who was seated in the courtroom surrounded by family and friends. Superior Court Judge Karen Eady-Williams halted the proceedings, as the woman, crying loudly, was led through a door and out into the lobby.

Across the room, Olsen and his family watched the episode without any sign of emotion. After about 20 minutes the woman returned.

Olsen, 23, a former UNCC quarterback and the younger brother of Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, is charged with three counts of rape, along with other charges, in what police and prosecutors say was the beating and sexual assault of his girlfriend. If convicted by the nine men and three women of his jury, Olsen faces up to 10 years in prison for each count of rape.

His attorneys, the father-daughter defense team of George and Bree Laughrun, say their client is not guilty. They have portrayed the accuser, now 25, as a cloying girlfriend desperate to stay with Olsen who turned vindictive when Olsen cheated on her and their relationship frayed.

On Thursday, the defense again homed in on apparent inconsistencies in some of the details the accuser had given to friends, police and campus investigators, and her family doctor.

After the prosecutors, assistant district attorneys Kristen Northrup and Jane Honeycutt, rested their case, George Laughrun asked the judge to throw out the charges. He argued that there was no proof that violence had occurred during the sex, a requirement of rape.

Citing the accuser’s injuries and her earlier testimony that she was too terrified of the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Olsen to resist his demands, Honeycutt dismissed Laughrun’s argument as “ludicrous.”

Eady-Williams sided with the prosecution, saying ample evidence had been presented that force had been a factor.

Throughout, the testimony in the case had revealed highly intimate details. So has some of the evidence.

On Wednesday, photos of the accuser’s sexual assault exam were shown to the jury. The courtroom monitors normally used to display visual evidence were either turned off or discreetly turned away from public view.

On Thursday, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police detective described how after his arrest, Olsen was ordered to strip at the police department. He was then photographed and DNA samples taken from his pubic area and other parts of his body.

Once again, much of the trial appeared to be enveloped by a social media cloud, as hundreds of texts that Olsen and his former girlfriend sent to each other or exchanged with friends dominated the testimony.

In his cross-examinations, George Laughrun asked Reynolds if she remembered a text Olsen’s accuser had sent after one of the couple’s arguments. “F--- boys are temporary,” Laughrun read aloud.

Reynolds said she did not recall it.

Did Reynolds recall a text in which the accuser said, according to Laughrun, that “Kevin is not a rapist”?

No, she said.

Laughrun went on. After Olsen’s arrest, he asked, did Reynolds remember the wording of another text from her roommate: “I promise you, I ruined his life,” Laughrun read.

Olsen, a member of a famous New Jersey football family, played for his father in high school and received a scholarship to play at Miami. He left Miami and then Towson State due to problems involving drugs and alcohol. At UNCC, he was suspended after his arrest and is no longer enrolled.

His accuser has described him as a heavy drinker and a serial philanderer. One of his lawyers erupted when Northrup asked the lead investigator in the case, CMPD Detective Cristina Cougill, about a former girlfriend of Olsen’s by name.

George Laughrun shouted his objection as he jumped to his feet and pounded the defense table. He said the mere mention of the name of a woman who was not scheduled to testify would infer to the jury that something improper had happened between Olsen and her.

Laughrun then alluded to the Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in which Laughrun said female accusers were coming out of the wall “like roaches,” with allegations of sexual misbehavior by the judge.

Eady-Williams listened until Laughrun stopped speaking, then questioned his comparison of women to insects. Laughrun quickly apologized. The judge, without raising her voice, pressed on.

“Like roaches? They should be treated with more respect,” Eady-Williams said. “You don’t know what’s happening in those cases.”

According to Reynolds, her roommate described the assault by Olsen back at their apartment, after she had taken off her clothes and was studying her bruises in a bathroom mirror. Reynolds described her as “hysterical” at the time.

She says she insisted on driving her roommate to the hospital. At the time, she described their relationship as “inseparable.”

That has since changed. A series of fallings-out led them to both leave the apartment, Reynolds said, and they haven’t spoken since.

When she finished testifying, however, Reynolds did not exit the courtroom. Instead she sat down next to the accuser.

Side by side, the two women watched as the trial resumed.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095; @MikeGordonOBS
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