MORGANTOWN — The woman who accused an Uber driver of sexually assaulting her in his vehicle told jurors what she could remember of the incident during the first day of the trial Tuesday June 5.
The jury also heard from the prosecution and defense attorney for Ibrahim Hamid, who is charged with second-degree sexual assault.
Hamid appeared before Judge Russell Clawges in Monongalia County Circuit Court.
The native of Sudan had two Arabic-speaking interpreters translating the proceedings.
The defense and prosecution agree that the alleged victim was in Hamid’s car in the early morning hours of April 28, 2017. Both agree the two went to a McDonald’s drive-through and both sides agree there was intercourse, but the agreements end there.
The victim’s name will not be used in this story.
In her opening statement, Monongalia County Prosecutor Perri Jo DeChristopher told jurors the victim and her friends met at Joe Mama’s in downtown Morgantown to celebrate the completion of their master’s program. The victim had three or four drinks and remembers dancing before she lost track of her friends. The next thing the victim remembers, DeChristopher said, was in a dark vehicle, probably an Uber — which is not unusual for her. The investigation later revealed that Hamid was driving a silver van.
The victim’s memory of the trip home comes in pieces, DeChristopher said. She was in the front seat and stopped in a parking lot in front of her West Run apartment. Then, she was in the backseat, but didn’t remember how she got there, DeChristopher said. She remembers someone on top of her and trying to push him away and saying “no, no, no.” She remembers hitting the man on the face and him having an accent from when he spoke for the first time to say “are you on your period” and “roll over I want to get behind you.” Then she remembers heading into her apartment, shoes in hand and melting, DeChristopher said.
“She has no doubt that she conveyed her lack of consent,” which didn’t deter him, DeChristopher said.
DeChristopher told jurors that DNA collected from the victim’s vaginal area during an examination by a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) was sent to the West Virginia State Police lab where it matched a profile of Hamid.
Lance Rollo, Hamid’s attorney, said the version of events told by the state were “partly true” but “mostly a work of fiction.”
Hamid was driving for Uber on the night in question as he did several nights a week, Rollo said. After ending his shift Hamid, who also lived at West Run, stopped by the Mountainlair where the victim was standing in the rain and offered her a ride.
The victim, who did not seem drunk to Hamid, gave him directions and asked to stop at McDonald’s. At McDonald’s the victim told Hamid he was a nice guy for picking her up, leaned over and kissed him. At West Run, she kissed him again, for several minutes.
Rollo said she voluntarily moved to the back seat where the two continued to kiss. Hamid and the alleged victim removed their own clothing. Hamid then got a condom from the glovebox, which the victim later removed, Rollo said.
He said she could have left then while left alone in the back, Rollo said.
Rollo said the woman gave Hamid her phone number and questioned why a victim of a sex crime would do that.
At no point was there slapping, saying no or hitting, Rollo said, calling the encounter consensual.
The victim, a 25-year-old from Maryland, took the stand Tuesday and intermittently cried and choked up during the roughly 30-minute testimony.
She testified that she took an Uber downtown at about 10:30 p.m. and that she frequently took Ubers since she didn’t have a car. She planned to return home either using the West Run shuttle or Uber, she said.
The bar was busy, but she met her friends, drinking whiskey sours, a shot of tequila and a beer while dancing and shooting pool.
She described being tipsy, but not completely drunk. Sadiyyah Owens, the victim’s friend, later testified that the victim was more intoxicated than she’d seen before.
She remembers dancing and then being in a car, which she assumed was an Uber. She remembers stopping at McDonald’s and then being in the parking lot of her apartment building. She remembers being in the back seat and a man on top of her.
She remembers saying no and struggling and believes she smacked him.
She does not remember giving Hamid her phone number, she said.
The victim testified that after telling friends what happened, she agreed to go with them Saturday morning the sheriff’s department, where she met with Detective J. Friend.
Owens and the other friend then took her to J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, where she was examined by a SANE nurse.
The SANE nurse, Laura Schmidle, explained to the jury how the exam process works, how samples are collected and how they are sent to the State Police lab.
The trial continues June 6.
This story, written by William Dean, first appeared in the June 6 edition of The Dominion Post.