Lawrence man sentenced to probation after taking plea in rape case

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A Lawrence man was sentenced Friday to two years of probation in connection with a woman’s report that he had raped her after a party ahead of her freshman year at KU. 

A Douglas County jury in September could not reach a verdict in the case against Kalim Akeba-Lloyd Dowdell, now 27. 

The woman had testified during the jury trial that she had woken up to Dowdell having sex with her after she had either fallen asleep or passed out drunk in August 2018.

Dowdell was set for a second trial, but he entered a plea of no contest to aggravated battery, a level-7 (low-severity) felony, in February, according to documents in the case file. He will not be required to register as a violent offender or sex offender as part of the plea.

Judge Stacey Donovan agreed Friday to sentence Dowdell in line with the plea that Senior Assistant District Attorney David Greenwald and defense attorney Adam Hall had negotiated.

The woman gave Greenwald a statement to read on her behalf at the sentencing. In it, the woman detailed how much she loved Lawrence and KU when she toured the campus and city and moved in for her freshman year. She was happy here, and Dowdell “took that happiness away,” she wrote.

“He knew how drunk I was, he was the one feeding me drinks all night,” she wrote. “Drunk or not, I said no. In addition to saying no, I was unconscious. Any normal person understands that’s wrong.”

She wrote that “he raped me with such force that a wooden support bar on my bed was broken in half.”

The woman ultimately moved out of Kansas “just to get away from him,” she wrote.

“I planned on moving back to Kansas once Kalim was in prison. That was always my plan,” she wrote. “As the years went on and the trial was drug out, I began to realize how unlikely that was.”

For the last 5 1/2 years, “so much of my life has revolved around him and what happened. I’ve never felt more isolated and alone,” she wrote. “It seems like somehow I am the one who ended up paying the price for what Kalim did.”

She wrote that she was glad Dowdell was being held accountable for something, and she wanted this part of her life to be over, but “I also want the court to understand that it was not just a case of aggravated battery.”

The woman’s mother spoke about how her daughter — an honors student with multiple scholarships — ended up on academic probation because of the emotional aftermath from that night.

She said her daughter kept seeing Dowdell everywhere, including at her jobs, in her row at a football game and at her apartment complex. The mother said that the day she helped her daughter move out, Dowdell had driven in circles in the parking lot, staring at them.

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The mother said the woman is doing amazing things with her life and her career, and “she’s stronger than I could ever hope to be.” She said she wouldn’t lower herself to say all the things she’d like to say to Dowdell.

“I hope being a felon for the rest of your life reminds you of what you did to my daughter,” she said.

She thanked Greenwald for continuing to fight for her daughter.

The woman, who was 18 at the time, testified during the jury trial that she had met Dowdell on Aug. 24, 2018 at an annual fraternity party held on an evening near the beginning of the school year. She said she was already somewhat drunk when Dowdell, then 21, and a KU basketball player took her to a club in downtown Lawrence that has since closed. She said no one carded her because she was with the basketball player, who was not called to testify.

The woman said at that point, she didn’t have any reason not to invite Dowdell to come up to her dorm in Self Hall at the end of the night. 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 a movie, 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.

The woman said she had some interactions with Dowdell on social media after that night. 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 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. She reported 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.

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.”

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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 was a level-1, or high-severity, felony.

Hall had 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.

Greenwald had 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 the KUPD detective 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.

The jury had deliberated for about four hours before they told the judge they could not reach a verdict. 

Given the opportunity to address the court before he was sentenced on Friday, Dowdell said, “I’m OK, your honor.”

Donovan told the woman and her mother that she was sure it was difficult to compose their statements, and for the mother to stand up and speak about the pain she felt for her daughter and what her daughter feels.

Donovan said she knew counsel had spent a lot of time negotiating the plea, and she would honor the time and effort that went into it. She said she was sure Greenwald had discussed with them at length what the court could do at that point in the case.

Donovan sentenced Dowdell to two years of probation with an underlying sentence of 12 months in prison, should his probation be revoked. He must maintain full-time employment or student status, he must not break the law and he must not use alcohol or drugs.

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Dowdell must pay $613 total — $193 in court costs and a $200 DNA database fee, $120 probation fee and $100 Board of Indigents’ Defense Services application fee — within 90 days. Donovan waived Dowdell’s attorney fees. He is not allowed to have any contact with the woman.

Donovan told Dowdell she hopes he’s successful on probation and that he’s not back in front of the court. She told the woman that she hopes she and her family can move forward in a better direction.

Other cases

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors also agreed to dismiss a 2021 case in which Dowdell was charged with violation of the woman’s protective order and stalking, according to case documents.

During a hearing a week after the mistrial, Greenwald withdrew a motion to revoke a 2015 diversion agreement made by Dowdell for a harassment charge in connection with allegations that he had sent unsolicited photos of his penis to a New Zealand blogger whom he did not know.

In January 2017, Dowdell entered into the diversion agreement, stipulating that he committed the crime of harassment by telecommunication device by transmitting obscene images and texts. The agreement was to remain in effect for 24 months unless terms were violated.

According to documents from the Kansas Court of Appeals, prosecutors initially filed to revoke diversion in November 2017 after Dowdell failed to pay attorney fees and failed to notify the district attorney of his school address in California.

In August 2018, the state again sought to revoke the agreement, this time based on allegations that he violated the terms of his diversion by failing to provide passwords enabling police to search his phone.

In January 2019, the district court found Dowdell to be in violation. He was convicted and sentenced to probation with an “underlying jail term of 12 months.” Dowdell appealed, and in May 2023 the Kansas Court of Appeals reversed the conviction, saying that prosecutors presented insufficient evidence that he had violated the diversion agreement “even when viewed in a light most favorable to the State.”

A motion filed by Assistant District Attorney Brian Deiter asked the court to dismiss all counts of the harassment complaint based on prosecutorial discretion.

Dowdell had a criminal history score of “I” — the lowest possible score, meaning he had no previous convictions or just one misdemeanor conviction — according to a report for his sentencing Friday. He was released from jail on a $50,000 surety bond while the case was pending, according to jail records.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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, care@ku.edu, 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.
More resources
  • StrongHearts Native Helpline: Call 1-844-7NATIVE (762-8483) for 24/7 safe, confidential and anonymous domestic and sexual violence support for Native Americans and Alaska Natives that is culturally appropriate.
  • National hotline: Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), text “START” to 88788, and/or visit thehotline.org to chat and learn more, 24/7.

Related coverage:

Lawrence man sentenced to probation after taking plea in rape case

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A Lawrence man was sentenced Friday to two years of probation in connection with a woman’s report that he had raped her in 2018 after a party ahead of her freshman year at KU. 

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