A Douglas County jury on Tuesday will weigh testimony to decide whether they believe the accounts of two women, or the man who they say raped them both after a New Year’s Eve party three years ago.
Chastleton J. Malone, now a 24-year-old KU graduate, faces three counts of rape for having sex with the two college students, who his charges allege were incapable of giving their consent because of the effect of any alcoholic liquor, narcotic, drug or other substance.
The women, who have asked to be referred to by pseudonyms Eliza and Abigail to protect their identities, believe there is a strong chance they were drugged at the party, where Malone was also present. They both said that they were sexually assaulted by Malone after he followed them home that night.
In testimony last week, Malone, of Lawrence, called the evening “a typical one-night stand,” and asserted that neither he nor his accusers were particularly intoxicated.
Eliza and Abigail both testified that they became acquainted prior to college, attending high school in neighboring Kansas towns approximately 15 minutes apart. Although the two were not close, they remained in contact through social media.
On New Year’s Eve 2019, Eliza, then 19, invited Abigail, who had just gone through a breakup, to come to Lawrence to celebrate the new year. Abigail, then 18, said the two smoked pot and had one drink each as they got dressed for the evening at Eliza’s home.
Both women said they first went to a friend’s home at The Nest, a townhome complex in southern Lawrence. There they socialized with about a dozen people for approximately two hours. In testimony, the women said they each drank some hard lemonade before heading to the next party.
Abigail testified that the two had decided to drink slowly because they knew they had a long night ahead.
“We were pacing ourselves quite a bit,” Abigail said. “I don’t like to get really drunk.”
Just before midnight, the two women walked with about eight people to another location at The Nest. The second party was quite a bit darker and larger, with loud music and somewhere between 50 and 75 people attending.
Eliza said she and Abigail took drinks from a bottle that was being passed at the party, and at midnight the two shared a quick kiss. Within seconds, they said, they were approached by Malone, then 21, asking them to re-create the kiss on video. The three introduced themselves and Eliza gave Malone her social media information before giving him permission to post the video online.
Within minutes, however, Malone’s behavior began to make them uncomfortable, the women said.
Eliza, who was wearing a crop top that evening, became alarmed after Malone touched her midriff and sought information about where the women were staying.
“Soon into it he asked if he could have a ride home,” Eliza said. “I remember him saying I had soft skin.”
Abigail also testified that Malone’s questions and persistence bothered her. Not long after meeting Malone, Abigail said she and Eliza made a trip to the bathroom where they took a quick selfie before Eliza mentioned her discomfort around Malone.
“‘That Chas guy is freaking me out,’” Abigail reported Eliza saying. “’He’s really weird, dude.’”
The women said they attempted to evade Malone by mingling with other partygoers, but no matter where they went, he seemed to follow.
Two friends who accompanied Malone to the party testified that they saw their friend interacting with the women during the party. One said that the women “didn’t give off the vibe that there was any unwanted attention.”
At around 12:30 a.m., Malone’s friends said they confirmed with the women that Malone would either get a ride home with them or go to the girls’ house.
“They were hitting it off — smiling and engaging in conversation,” one friend said.
The women, however, gave a different account.
At some point during the evening, both reported drinking from black plastic cups filled with jungle juice — described as fruit juice mixed with several types of alcohol — that was being served from a large container at the party.
Neither woman could confirm during testimony last week who gave them the drinks, but a photo found the next day showed Abigail holding a black cup. Abigail recalled taking several sips of the drink, but said Eliza finished the entire drink.
Both women said they began to feel strange very soon after drinking from the black cups. Abigail described the feeling as “not necessarily drunk, but really, really tired.”
From that point in the evening on, Abigail said she only had flashes of memory. Eliza testified that during the three hours they spent at the second party, she only had foggy memories that included kissing Malone briefly.
“I felt like the party was going on around me, but I was just watching,” Eliza said.
In the early hours of Jan. 1, the women returned to the home where they had started the evening. Neither remembered asking Malone to come with them, but in photos found the next day the women are taking a selfie on the couch; one photo shows Malone directly behind the women turning to look their way as he walks past them.
Eliza testified that the only memory she has after that is being in her own home taking off her earrings. The rest is a mystery until the next day.
Abigail said her memories were limited to “flashes,” but she had moments of clarity throughout the night.
Those brief memories included Malone allegedly penetrating her vagina with his finger as they were driven back to Eliza’s house across town. Abigail said she moved away from Malone, but said nothing of the incident because she didn’t realize Malone had entered Eliza’s home with them, and she was “fighting just to stay awake.”
Abigail said that later she recalled Malone being in the bedroom with both women, and Eliza asking Malone not to take off his pants. She also recalled that at one point, all three were lying on the double bed, with Eliza in the middle. Abigail said she had planned at one point to sleep in a different room, but decided to stay when Eliza said “Don’t leave.”
Abigail said she then remembered being awakened by Malone reaching across Eliza and allegedly again penetrating her vagina with his finger. She tried to get away and said she was frightened that it took so much energy to roll her body off the bed.
“I remember being scared of the sensation,” she said. “I was numb in my arms and legs.”
Abigail fought back tears on the stand as she recalled later hearing Malone ask Eliza if she was on birth control. She heard no answer, but said Malone then asked louder if Eliza was on birth control. Abigail said she didn’t hear a response, but soon heard rustling on the bed and Eliza’s even breathing.
Abigail said her next flash of memory was waking up to Malone raping her on the floor.
“I remember his face right over me,” she said. “I have nightmares about it.”
Malone, who testified to drinking peach brandy with a Pepsi chaser during the evening, testified to a different set of events. Malone said he was “flirting heavily” with Eliza during the larger party, and that she did not appear to be intoxicated.
Malone said Eliza invited him to an after party back at her friend’s house, and then brought him home with Abigail very early in the morning. Malone said Eliza directed him to her room and the three got in bed together after the women had changed into pajamas.
Malone testified that he had sex with Eliza for 30 to 60 minutes while Abigail lay on the bed awake next to them. He said he noticed sometime later that Abigail was still awake. He said he asked Abigail if she was on birth control. He said she replied no, and that she would “take care of it in the morning.”
Malone testified that he then had sex with Abigail. He said that after 15 minutes she got up to go to the bathroom, and when she returned they continued for 15 more minutes.
Abigail testified she saw Malone put on his pants and quietly leave the room sometime the next morning. Malone said that he got up, texted his friend to ask for a ride home, and then told the women goodbye.
Eliza and Abigail did not wake up until mid-afternoon. Both testified that they believed almost immediately that something had happened the night before, but neither said anything right away.
Abigail, who testified that this was the second time she has been sexually assaulted, said she just planned to go home and deal with the situation by talking to her family and her therapist rather than burdening Eliza with her foggy memories of the night before.
“I didn’t want her to feel responsible,” she said.
However, after realizing that Eliza had also awakened nude from the waist down, the two began trying to piece together the events of the night before. Abigail said Eliza began to panic and ask a flurry of questions.
“’What happened last night? Was somebody here? Did we have sex? Who did I have sex with?’”
Abigail said that at about that time, Eliza responded to a Snapchat message from Malone wishing her a happy new year. It was then that the two women began slowly piecing together their memories of the prior evening.
Once they had examined their bodies and found a bruise on Eliza’s pelvic area, she and Abigail called Eliza’s sister, who works in health education. The sister advised the women that the most important thing they could do was go to the hospital for a sexual assault nurse examiner — or SANE — screening. She also told them to preserve evidence by bagging their clothes and bedding, avoid showering or brushing their teeth, and to seek the SANE exam as soon as possible.
By the time they had spoken to her sister and learned of the multi-hour process they would go through, Abigail said Eliza told her she was still “out of it” and didn’t feel ready to go to the hospital.
“(I thought) can I have one more day of just doing what I want?” Eliza testified. “I knew the next days were going to be a lot. And they were.”
The two went to Lawrence Memorial Hospital for SANE exams the next morning at about 8 a.m.
A forensic toxicologist with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation testified that swabs from both women’s SANE kits yielded DNA consistent with Malone’s.
Malone’s retained defense attorney, Michael Duma, pointed out that Malone had asked permission to post the video of Eliza and Abigail’s midnight kiss and repeatedly highlighted discrepancies between last week’s testimony and testimony given by the two women during Malone’s preliminary hearing in September 2021.
He also cited testimony from Eliza detailing texts that were sent in the early morning hours as well as plans to go home and smoke more pot before going to bed.
“That seems like a high level of reasoning for somebody who doesn’t remember the evening,” Duma said.
He also questioned whether the women had intentionally waited until they knew blood tests would not be able to detect date rape drugs in their systems.
Duma asked Abigail why she hadn’t told her family what had happened for several days, and why her memories came to her over time rather than immediately.
“How do we know as time goes on that you’re not going to remember having consensual sex with Chas?” Duma said.
Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez and Deputy DA Joshua Seiden are leading the prosecution.
Malone got a phone call on Jan. 3, 2020, from someone who had been at the party with him. They told him that people were starting to talk about the women saying they had been raped. Malone right away called Lawrence police, and then went to speak with them face-to-face.
Seiden asked Malone about speaking with the police when he learned about the allegations. Malone said he had made contact with police because he “thought it was the right thing to do.”
After questioning Malone’s choice to take a screen shot of only part of the Snapchat message he sent to friends asking for a ride home on Jan. 1, Seiden asked where the rest of the exchange was. Malone explained twice that Snapchat automatically deletes messages after a set amount of time. Seiden then asked why Malone chose only to save one portion of the text.
Seiden also asked Malone whether his study and experience in corporate communications might have helped him decide to go to the police rather than wait for an official accusation to be made. He asked if corporate communications included “damage control.”
“Isn’t it about controlling the narrative and getting in front of things?” Seiden asked.
Malone said he didn’t have much real-world experience, but that corporate communications included an array of skills including internal and external communications and human resources. Seiden asked again if the job might also be to control the narrative. He then asked Malone whose idea it had been to go to the police.
“Mine,” Malone said.
Seiden asked why.
“To get in front of it,” Malone said.
Malone and both women had supporters present in court throughout evidence, and the women both sat in the courtroom to listen after they gave their own testimony. Both the prosecution and the defense rested Friday.
Douglas County District Court Judge Stacey Donovan has scheduled closing arguments to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 17. Then the case will go to the jury of six men and seven women; one juror will be named an alternate.
Malone remains free on $50,000 surety bond, which was posted hours after his arrest on Oct. 14, 2020.
All arrestees and defendants in criminal cases should be presumed not guilty unless and until they are convicted.
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Resources for survivors
If you have experienced sexual violence or trauma, please seek the help that’s right for you. There are many options available, and you don’t have to file a police report if you don’t want to.
Get 24/7 help in Lawrence: The Sexual Trauma & Abuse Care Center
- Call 785-843-8985 to reach an advocate, 24/7. (Consider saving that number in your phone in case you or someone you know ever needs it.)
- After an assault: What are my options? Check this page for detailed information about
- talking to an advocate,
- going to the hospital,
- making a police report,
- and/or talking to a counselor or therapist.
- On campus? Check this page for specific resources for the University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University, Baker University, Ottawa University and more.
Resources on KU’s campus:
- Contact the CARE (Campus Assistance, Resource, and Education) Coordinator: Students can make an appointment by email, email@example.com, or by calling 785-864-9255. It’s free, confidential and voluntary to talk with the CARE Coordinator. All genders welcome. Read more here.
- Find more KU campus resources at this link. Specific information about sexual assault exams can be found here.
- Direct message KU CARE Sisters on Instagram. You don’t need to be affiliated with Greek Life to reach out and/or receive assistance. (Note: CARE Sisters provide peer support and education, but this is not a 24/7 service like others listed here.)
Domestic violence situations: The Willow Domestic Violence Center
- Reach the Willow for help 24/7 at 785-843-3333.
- Find more resources on the Willow’s website at this link.
- National hotline: Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), text “START” to 88788, and/or visit thehotline.org to chat and learn more, 24/7.
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Andrea Albright (she/her), reporter, can be reached at aalbright (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.