Attorneys delivered their closing arguments Tuesday afternoon after the weeklong trial of a 21-year-old Naval Academy midshipman accused of sexually assaulting a fellow midshipman at an off-campus party last year.
Jurors will begin deliberating Wednesday morning whether to convict Garrett Lee Holsen, a midshipman second class, of second-degree rape and other charges in the May 2021 incident at a party in Annapolis following the Herndon Monument Climb.
Holsen, 21, was charged with second-degree rape, second-degree assault, as well as third- and fourth-degree sex offenses, stemming from the incident at an Airbnb on Colonial Avenue. On Tuesday, prosecutors agreed to drop a misdemeanor fourth-degree sex offense charge as lawyers tackled a variety of procedural matters.
Last week, the woman testified that she was heavily intoxicated when Holsen initiated intercourse with her at the party during Commissioning Week. She testified that the encounter was not consensual.
Other midshipmen who were at the party testified that the woman was throwing up in the bathroom, and that her friends found Holsen in the bathroom with her when they returned there to bring her food and water.
Holsen took the stand Tuesday morning and gave jurors a different account of what happened that evening. He said the encounter was entirely consensual and that he and the woman had developed a close friendship during their plebe year, while he was still in a long-term relationship.
“Under different circumstances, I think we would’ve been dating,” Holsen said.
He said he had no indication she was intoxicated during the party that night, and that he sat across from her in the bathroom and spoke with her before she leaned in for a kiss. He said he asked to have sex, and she agreed, adding that he left after fellow midshipmen opened the door and told him to get out.
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In her closing argument, Assistant State’s Attorney Courtney Scalice recalled the woman’s testimony earlier in the trial, when she said she was not interested in Holsen and began dating another midshipman days after the incident.
Defense attorney Peter O’Neill argued that the woman was not as intoxicated that night as she and her friends had testified. He accused them of changing their narrative to convict Holsen in a case with little material evidence.
O’Neill questioned Holsen’s accuser’s integrity, citing an honor code violation she had received for plagiarism. He then attempted to buoy Holsen’s testimony by recalling several character witnesses who testified that they knew Holsen as “peaceful” and respectful toward women.
“This case is about truth. It’s about character. It’s about the quality of the human being we have here in front of us,” he said.
Scalice questioned why the several midshipmen who were called as witnesses last week would lie about how much the woman had been drinking that night.
“What was their motive?” she said. “There was none.”
Jurors will begin deliberating at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Robert J. Thompson said at the end of Tuesday’s lengthy arguments.