Earlier versions of this story had an incorrect spelling of defense attorney Steven F. Wrobel's name. This version has been corrected.
Academy Rape Suspect's Apology
Thursday, March 9, 2006; 4:15 PM
The young man's voice was mournful as he apologized repeatedly to the woman he was accused of raping.
"I can never expect you to forgive me," Lamar S. Owens Jr. is heard telling the female midshipman in a phone conversation secretly recorded by investigators. "I don't know what's going to happen. I guess you're going to turn me in."
The recording provided compelling evidence on the first day of a preliminary hearing for Owens, last season's starting quarterback for the U.S. Naval Academy, who is accused of rape, indecent assault and conduct unbecoming an officer.
The allegations have sent a shudder through the academy, where Owens is known as deeply religious and is well liked by his teammates. It also has opened old wounds at a school that has been stung by a series of sexual assault and harassment scandals in recent years.
Under cross-examination, the female midshipman acknowledged she had been drinking the evening before and had gaps in her memory. But the recording, taped nearly two weeks after the alleged incident, captured a clearly contrite Owens, apparently crying at points.
"When I woke up the next day, I really wanted to kill myself, and I still feel that way," he tells her.
Prodded by an investigator, who was standing nearby as the conversation was being taped, the woman asks Owens if he used a condom.
"No," he responded. "I didn't do it long."
"How long? " she asked.
"Not long. . . . You weren't awake, so I stopped."
Owens, 22, a senior from Savannah, Ga., sat quietly as the recording played. The Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury proceeding, will determine whether sufficient evidence exists to proceed to a court-martial. The hearing is scheduled to continue today.
If convicted, Owens could face penalties ranging from expulsion from the service to years in prison. His civilian attorney, Steven F. Wrobel, has said he expects his client to be cleared.