Jurors acquitted a former Pickerington Central High School football player yesterday of one rape charge but were deadlocked on a second, resulting in a mistrial.
Roger L. Lewis Jr. was charged with raping a classmate during their senior year.
His mother, Tina Thomas, shouted, “Yes! Yes!” in the courtroom as the verdicts were read shortly before 6 p.m. Then she began to sob.
Lewis thanked the jury.
Fairfield County Prosecutor Gregg Marx did not rule out retrying Lewis on the rape count on which the jury reached an impasse. Common Pleas Judge Richard E. Berens declared a mistrial on that charge because of the deadlock.
Lewis faced a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison on each of the first-degree felony counts if he had been convicted.
His family declined to comment afterward on the advice of lawyer Neil Rosenberg, who noted there is the chance of a retrial.
The jury foreman told Berens at 12:30 p.m. yesterday that although jurors had agreed unanimously on one verdict, they were at an impasse on the other count. The foreman said that even with more time, they were not going to reach an agreement.
Later, a juror emerged in tears and went into Berens’ office for a private conversation.
The judge then directed the jurors to do their duty, listen to one another and re-examine their positions to reach a unanimous verdict. But no verdict was reached.The jury deliberated for more than two full days in what was not an easy case.
The woman testified that she had been raped. Lewis said they had consensual sex.
Lewis, a star wide receiver recruited by Ohio State University, was accused of raping the woman on a couch in the basement of another classmate’s house on Dec. 2, 2011. The woman had given Lewis a ride, and he invited her inside.
That was the count on which the jurors acquitted Lewis.
Lewis also was accused of raping her Jan. 6, 2012, in the back seat of her car while it was parked outside an empty lot in a partially built Pickerington subdivision. The jurors deadlocked on that charge.
The woman said she had driven to his house to pick up her highlighted, annotated copy of Lord of the Flies, a book he had taken from her as a prank earlier in the school year. She said she needed to prepare for a midterm in Advanced Placement English. She said he made her drive them to the Fox Glen subdivision, where he pulled her into the back seat and raped her, at one point using his cellphone camera to record video. No video was recovered.
The woman told high-school administrators on Jan. 9 that she had been raped, and they called Pickerington police.
She told jurors that Lewis also had sexually assaulted her during their freshmen and sophomore years. She said she told no one because she was embarrassed and ashamed, and she thought it was her fault.
According to his attorneys, Lewis, who did not take the stand, said that the two had consensual sex in her car and at his friend’s house, and that they had had sex about 10 times in all, since they had begun a secret sexual relationship when they were freshmen.
In recorded interviews with investigators, Lewis said that the woman told him “no” about 15 times while they were having sex in the car. He said it was part of their sexual role-playing.
Jurors heard those interviews.
Jurors also listened to a recorded telephone conversation between the woman and another classmate, Adrian Wilson, that occurred on Dec. 15, 2011. The woman told Wilson that Lewis kept pursuing her although he had a girlfriend, and that he appeared to regard her as “his frickin’ booty call,” although she had refused to have sexual intercourse.
Defense lawyers said the conversation undercut the woman’s credibility.
Marx told jurors not to make too much of it. It was just two high-school girls talking, he said.
The woman and Lewis are now 19. She is in college and has been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Lewis is not in college.
By Mary Beth Lane - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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