LOS ANGELES (AP) — Derrick Rose’s rape trial got underway in a Los Angeles courtroom Tuesday and the NBA star was halfway across the country saying he planned to win the lawsuit.
Rose told reporters in Houston before the Knicks exhibition opener that he didn’t settle the case seeking $21 million because he thinks he didn’t do anything wrong and he looks forward to telling his side of the story.
“That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to take it to court because I didn’t want to settle,” Rose said. “I don’t feel like I did anything wrong. If I go up there and just tell my side of the story, I think I’ll be alright.”
A lawyer for the ex-girlfriend who claims Rose and two friends gang raped her while she was incapacitated cried foul in court, saying Rose had violated the gag order his own lawyer had sought to silence the parties out of the courtroom.
“It’s unfair to the plaintiff,” attorney Waukeen McCoy complained.
A federal judge said he wouldn’t make any decision without knowing what was said and hearing from Rose’s lawyer.
Jury selection resumes Wednesday without a single juror selected. A pool of 50 candidates was asked what they know about the case, what basketball team they root for and whether they can set aside their own sexual moral beliefs and biases.
Rose, who is returning to the sport with a new team after several injuries, is expected to appear Thursday in court. His two friends and their accuser sat through jury selection on opposite sides of the courtroom.
U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald gave prospective jurors an outline of the case, warning that they would hear testimony involving sex acts, vulgarity and profanity.
“Sex is essentially at the heart of what has been alleged and denied,” Fitzgerald said.
The trial threatens to overshadow Rose’s attempts to bounce back from injuries that sidelined him the past few seasons and expose details of his sex life, including text messages discussing his desire to have group sex.
The woman has said she rebuffed those offers and never consented to sex with the trio. She claimed she was drugged, though Rose’s lawyers said there’s no evidence of any drugs.
The woman, who dated Rose on and off for two years, claims he and two friends got into her apartment and had sex with her while she was intoxicated in August 2013. Los Angeles police are still investigating.
She was identified in court for the first time Tuesday and introduced to jurors by name. The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they are victims of sexual assault.
Rose and friends Randall Hampton and Ryan Allen denied the allegations and said the sex was consensual.
Lawyers for the three complained about the racial and ethnic makeup of the prospective jurors, noting only two were African-American like the defendants. They noted that 15 of the first 27 jurors had Hispanic surnames, as does their accuser.
The jury pool was selected at random from a diverse population, Fitzgerald said. He said that was just “tough luck” and he could not alter the group.
Jurors were asked to fill out a short questionnaire that asked about their families, jobs and whether they or their relatives had ever been sexually assaulted.
They were asked what a woman should do if she has been raped.
The judge noted that many respondents said they thought it should be reported to authorities right away. He said that would be a point of dispute in the trial and he asked jurors to keep an open mind. Each said they would.
The woman reported the incident to police last year — two years after she says she was raped — which is when she sued.
Rose’s attorneys said the woman is trying to extort millions from the former MVP.
The woman had wanted to remain anonymous because she said she was harassed online after her name was leaked and she didn’t want her conservative parents to learn about the incident. She said they don’t know anything about it or her relationship with Rose.
Fitzgerald allowed her to remain anonymous until trial. If he kept her identity from the jury, he said it might appear he was protecting her and jurors might assume he believed her, which could hurt the defense.