A Douglas County jury on Wednesday could not reach a verdict in the case of a Lawrence man who was charged with raping a University of Kansas freshman during her first week on campus in 2018.
A woman had testified that she had woken up to Kalim Akeba-Lloyd Dowdell, now 26, having sex with her after she had either fallen asleep or passed out drunk.
The trial was set to last four days, and some out-of-state witnesses had been subpoenaed to testify. However, Senior Assistant District Attorney David Greenwald rested on Tuesday afternoon; Wednesday morning, the defense rested without calling any witnesses.
The woman, who was 18 at the time, testified on Tuesday, more than five years after Aug. 24, 2018, the night she met Dowdell. He was 21 at the time. The woman had not made a police report about the incident until more than two years later, so law enforcement was unable to collect any evidence such as DNA, video surveillance or records of card swipes at residence halls.
Jurors deliberated for about four hours before determining that they were evenly split.
The woman said she had met Dowdell at a “Jersday” party — an annual fraternity party held on a Thursday near the beginning of the school year, where all in attendance wear a sports jersey. She said she was already somewhat drunk when Dowdell and a KU basketball player took her to Tonic, a club in downtown Lawrence that has since closed. She said no one carded her because she was with the basketball player, who did not testify.
She said she drank more at Tonic before the three went back to McCarthy Hall, known as the “basketball dorm,” for a little while before Dowdell took her back to her dorm at Self Hall.
The woman said at that point, she didn’t have any reason not to invite Dowdell to come up to her dorm. She did not have a roommate, and he hadn’t treated her badly at that point. She was attracted to him, she said.
She said she put on the movie “Trolls” and she and Dowdell sat in her lofted bed to watch it. She said they kissed for a little while, which was OK with her, but when he tried to go further than that, she told him she wasn’t going to have sex with him. She said he groaned, sighed and lay down. She said she then either fell asleep or passed out; she wasn’t sure, since it was very late and she was very drunk and tired.
She described waking up, feeling her bed rocking. She then realized she was naked and Dowdell was having sex with her, she said, and she told him “no” or “stop” or something to that effect.
“He told me he woke me up with what he knew I wanted,” she testified.
When he was done, she said, she had to walk Dowdell out and sign him out so he could get his ID back from the resident assistant who had checked him in.
The woman said she didn’t immediately block Dowdell on social media. They interacted on Snapchat and Instagram for a while. She said he had messaged her telling him to comment on his Instagram photo “or he’d come make me” comment on it, she said. She testified that she thought it was creepy, but that it was his way of flirting, and she didn’t really take it as a threat.
Greenwald asked the woman about some Instagram messages she had exchanged with a woman who said she was Dowdell’s girlfriend a couple of weeks after that night. The girlfriend had messaged the woman asking how she knew Dowdell. The woman apologized for hanging out with Dowdell and said she didn’t know he had a girlfriend. The girlfriend asked if the two had sex, and the woman said they had. But later in the conversation, the woman said that “he like had sex w me while I was asleep.” The girlfriend responded, “Wtf, like rape?”, and the woman responded ”I mean idk that I’d go that far but like I woke up and we were having sex”. She said she kept answering Dowdell because she didn’t want to make him mad.
The girlfriend asked if they had used a condom, and the woman replied that they did. In her testimony, the woman said she didn’t know if Dowdell had used a condom, and she had responded that way because she was trying to make the girlfriend feel better about the situation — not knowing whether they had only would have upset the girlfriend more, she said. The woman said she didn’t know this person and had no obligation to tell her the truth. She also said she didn’t tell the girlfriend it was rape because she didn’t know her and wasn’t crying out for her help.
After that exchange, she did block Dowdell on social media, the woman said. But she said she kept seeing him in various places — the gym where she worked; at a KU football game, in the same row as her, out of the whole stadium; and multiple times at her building in the student apartment complex where she’d moved after her freshman year.
She said Dowdell never “outwardly” threatened her, but “He raped me, so who knows what else he could do,” she testified.
By September 2020, she decided she wanted to file a protection order against Dowdell, she said. The Lawrence police officer she spoke to did not testify, but the woman said the officer told her that the protection order would be more likely to be granted if she made a police report about Dowdell. That was how she ended up reporting to KUPD.
“It feels really scary to go report a crime to police, especially at 18,” she said.
The woman wrote an anonymous blog post about the incident in April 2019.
“I haven’t told anyone about this. I don’t feel like anyone will understand. I don’t want any of my friends to see me as broken or damaged and I feel like that is what will happen if I tell them,” she wrote. “This broke me. I have no trust in anyone anymore. I don’t feel safe drinking around anyone. I feel like a shell of the girl I used to be and I just don’t know what’s next for me.”
KUPD Detective Todd Carpenter testified about taking the woman’s report. Carpenter said he also interviewed the basketball player and a few of the woman’s acquaintances who were present at various points throughout that evening. None of them were called to testify.
On cross-examination, Carpenter told defense attorney Adam Hall that he did not know whether he would have been able to find out who was the resident attendant on duty that night to potentially interview that person, but that he hadn’t.
Two therapists she had seen also testified about why she had come to them and what she had told them. They had both diagnosed her with depression, but the one she was still seeing in September 2020 when she made the formal police report added PTSD to her diagnosis around that time.
The case asked jurors to decide whether or not Dowdell was guilty of rape either because the woman was too intoxicated to consent, or alternatively, because she was asleep and could not consent to sex. The charge is a level-1, or high-severity, felony.
The jury of 12 included two men, one Black woman and mostly white women. Dowdell is Black, and the woman is white.
Hall said in his closing arguments that the case was one of regret. He emphasized that all the evidence the jury heard was from the woman herself — the detective and therapists all relied on her statements to them. There was no physical evidence, and there were no third-party witnesses who may have seen or heard what was happening at the time.
Hall said the woman’s message to Dowdell’s girlfriend saying that they had used a condom was evidence that she was conscious — if she had been unconscious, how would she know? Hall asked. He said the woman wasn’t too intoxicated to consent because she testified that she had declined to consent. Hall also questioned why the woman had remained friendly with Dowdell on social media for a while after that night. He said the woman consented to sex and regretted it once she found out Dowdell had a girlfriend.
Greenwald said the woman’s story had never changed, from reporting to a therapist first in December 2018, writing the anonymous blog post in April 2019, reporting to a new therapist in December 2019 and, in September 2020, telling Detective Carpenter what had happened. Though some of the minutiae changed and she had forgotten some details she had told police, the woman said every time that she woke up to Dowdell having sex with her, Greenwald said.
He asked jurors to consider whether she would have laid all those “breadcrumbs” years in advance to someday try to file for an order of protection, and what motives the woman would have to lie to them.
“Ask yourselves why. Talk about it,” Greenwald said.