Editor’s note: This article contains detailed accounts of sexual assault.
Former University of Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus stood for the first day of his trial Tuesday for the alleged sexual assault of two female students.
Cephus is charged with 2nd-degree sexual assault of an intoxicated victim and 3rd-degree sexual assault. The victim of the second charge, known as A.B. in court records, testified in front of the jury and a full gallery Tuesday.
According to the victim’s testimony and prosecutor Jessica Miller’s opening statements, Cephus and former teammate and roommate Danny Davis met with both victims and one of the victim’s friends at The Double U on April 21, 2018. Cephus then drove the group of five back to Davis and Cephus’ apartment.
During her testimony, Victim 1 said she and Victim 2 were highly intoxicated. During the alleged sexual acts Cephus performed on the victims, the women were going in an out of consciousness, according to Victim 1’s testimony.
While still in Cephus’ apartment in the early morning hours of Aril 22, 2018, Victim 1 sent multiple Snapchat messages about the events that occurred that evening to a friend. She said she has no memory of sending these messages.
“Rape… I’ve been raped… I don’t know what to [do],” Victim 1’s Snapchat messages read.
Defense attorney Steve Meyer claimed in his opening statement Victim 1 was not as intoxicated as she claimed to be, based on security camera footage of her in the apartment building’s lobby and her dorm hallway. He said the alleged assault was a “consensual threesome, a hookup” between Cephus and the two victims.
In his opening statement, Meyer added that Cephus made sure the women got to their respective dorms after their “hookup.”
“It’s not a crime to have sex with someone who’s been drinking,” Meyer said. “However, it’s very wrong to falsely accuse someone.”
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Victim 1 remembered waking up to Cephus fingering her and Victim 2. She also remembered Cephus penetrating her from behind, Cephus telling her to suck on Victim 2’s breast, and Cephus and Davis taking a picture of her while laughing. Upon her request, Davis deleted the picture.
Davis was given immunity to hand over his phone to prove the picture was deleted but was not given immunity for any testimony he may provide during this trial, the prosecution said.
In Victim 1’s testimony, the prosecution asked several times whether or not Victim 1 consented to each sexual act Cephus committed. Every time, she responded with “no.” Victim 1 said her memory of the night isn’t consistent — she remembers some events that transpired while long gaps exist between others.
“Above all, I was just very confused,” Victim 1 said of her time at the apartment.
Victim 1 reported feeling intoxicated throughout the night. In the report to the police after the incident, she said she’d felt unable to “walk in a straight line.” She reportedly puked in her dorm room and at the hospital after leaving Cephus’s apartment. But she said Victim 2 had been even more intoxicated than her, and still remembered Victim 2 telling Cephus “no,” or “I’m too tired,” during several of his sexual acts. Victim 1 said Victim 2 also appeared to be unconscious for much of the event.
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Two police officers who interacted with Victim 1 also offered testimony. UW Police Department officer Jake Lepper spoke with victim 1 in her dorm room the night. He said he watched her cry while sitting on her bed, and her responses sounded “fragmented, disjointed.”
Madison Police Department officer William Needelman spoke with Victim 1 at the hospital in the early morning of the incident. He said she was “cooperative, appeared to be extremely intoxicated.” She had to take breaks during their interview to use the bathroom with a bucket provided to her.
“Her ability to function was extremely diminished due to alcohol,” Needelman said.
To Needelman’s testimony, the defense argued that the victim was not as intoxicated as she seemed to be at the hospital because just a couple of hours before speaking with Needelman, Victim 1 was shown walking to her dorm room in Ogg Hall without stumbling or tripping. They claimed this meant that, despite Needelman’s testimony, Victim 1 couldn’t have been as intoxicated as she claimed.
Day one wrapped up with testimony from UW student Oliver Gannon, who consoled Victim 1 in her dorm after the incident and ended up calling UWPD. The trial continues Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.