Joe Johnson, Online Athens (GA), Mar. 16
A 22-year-old lesbian described in court Tuesday how a Gwinnett County deputy sheriff stuck a gun to her head, forced her to drive to a store to buy condoms and then made her take him to her Oconee Street residence where he raped her.
The explanation defendant allegedly gave her for wanting to rape her was because “the world needed one less dyke,” the Athens woman testified in Clarke County Superior Court.
The woman’s testimony marked the second day of the trial of 25-year-old Derrick McGriff on charges of rape, false imprisonment, aggravated assault with intent to rape, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and violation of oath of office.
The trial began Monday with McGriff taking the witness stand outside the presence of the jury, as part of his defense attorney’s ultimately unsuccessful argument that his client’s statements during initial questioning by Athens-Clarke police were inadmissible as evidence because they had been coerced.
After having reviewed the videotaped statements, Judge Lawton Stephens Tuesday ruled they were admissible because McGriff had made them with the full knowledge of his constitutional rights.
Opening statements and testimony in front of a jury of seven men and five women got under way Tuesday, with the alleged victim as the first prosecution witness.
The woman, whose name is being withheld under the Athens Banner-Herald’s policy of not identifying victims of sexual assault, said she met McGriff June 9 in Molly O’Shea’s Irish Pub on East Clayton Street, where he identified himself as a police officer doing an undercover investigation about how minorities are treated in establishments.
“He asked if I was gay, and I said yes and showed him a picture of my girlfriend at the time, who was a gay and also an African American,” she said.
The woman said after speaking with McGriff for nearly two hours, she told him she was leaving to play pool at another downtown establishment, and McGriff followed her to her car, got in and put a gun into her side.
“He started making comments about me being a lesbian, and that I needed to be taught a lesson,” she said.
On the way to the woman’s residence, McGriff ordered two stops along the way — once to buy cigarettes with McGriff’s credit card and once to buy two condoms with her own money.
Asked by Assistant District Attorney Edward Brumby why she didn’t call for help or try to escape, the woman said McGriff ”had a gun.”
Defense attorney Tom Jones attempted to demonstrate for jurors that the woman had ample opportunity to flee.
Referring to the first stop, at a Racetrac gas station for cigarettes, Jones asked, ”Was there no instinct of self-preservation kicking in? A normal flight instinct?”
“I don’t know,” the woman replied.
When the pair stopped a second time at a Shell gas station to buy condoms, the victim testified that the employees there appeared not able to speak English.
“Don’t you think they would have understood to call 911?” Jones asked.
“I don’t know,” she said.
Tuesday’s proceedings came to an abrupt halt when Stephens dismissed jurors early after Jones attempted to introduce evidence that the woman had been arrested in December on charges of stalking an ex-girlfriend and carrying a concealed weapon.
During questioning at the time of her arrest, the woman told Athens-Clarke police she had the weapon because she planned to shoot herself in front of her former lover, who ended the relationship a week earlier. The woman told the arresting officers that she was in therapy for suicidal thoughts she’d been having as a result of the alleged rape.
The defense has all along contended that the alleged victim fabricated the assault to cover up the fact that she had engaged in heterosexual sex.
Stephens tried to obtain a public defender for the woman to ensure she would not unnecessarily incriminate herself on the stalking and weapons charges by testifying about them in McGriff’s trial.
The trial was expected to resume at 9:30 a.m. today with additional prosecution witnesses taking the stand.