Attorneys for both sides in the criminal trial of a Cal Poly student accused of sexual battery against a female student sparred in court during closing arguments Monday before turning the case over to the jury.
Frank Nguyen, 21, of San Luis Obispo is accused of sexual battery and penetration with a foreign object, both felonies. He has pleaded not guilty.
If convicted of both charges, Nguyen faces the possibility of up to eight years in state prison.
According to prosecutors, in the early morning hours of March 23, the alleged victim let Nguyen into her apartment in Poly Canyon Village. The two had known each other for about four months through their participation in a number of Cal Poly clubs, according to prosecutors.
The alleged victim — identified in court only as Tina Doe — cooked dinner for the two and they began watching a movie on her bed, according to testimony.
That’s when Nguyen made unwanted advances toward the victim on the bed, removing her clothing, groping her and refusing to listen when she told him to stop, Deputy District Attorney Julie Antos said Monday.
Nguyen only stopped and left after she began hyperventilating, Antos said.
“‘No’ means ‘no’ and ‘stop’ means ‘stop,’ ” Antos told jurors in her closing argument. “The defendant does not get to decide if (the victim) wants to have any sexual contact.”
Antos showed the jury text messages leading up to the alleged attack that purportedly prove Nguyen instigated his coming to the victim’s apartment.
Antos also showed jurors a text message conversation between Nguyen and the alleged victim about six hours after the alleged sexual assault where Nguyen repeatedly apologizes for what happened — though he does not go into detail.
“He clearly knows he did wrong,” Antos said. “He admits it, and he tries to excuse it away.”
In the text exchange, the alleged victim accuses Nguyen of sexual assault.
“She thought she was safe with the defendant. She thought he would respect her. He didn’t,” Antos told the jury.
Nguyen was arrested at his workplace about two weeks later.
Nguyen’s attorney, Patrick Fisher, said in closing statements Monday that the victim lied on the stand and changed her testimony about how she allegedly resisted Nguyen.
“This case is about what was communicated,” Fisher said. “What did she tell him?”
Fisher said the alleged victim lied on the stand when asked if penetration occurred, initially saying she didn’t know, then later changing her testimony after talking with prosecutors during a court recess.
“That’s a huge thing to lie about,” Fisher said.
Fisher noted that immediately following the alleged assault, after Nguyen had left her apartment, the alleged victim called a male friend with whom she had recently concluded a romantic relationship to tell him what happened.
However, there were parts of her story that she did not tell her ex-boyfriend, Fisher said, including what time she and Nguyen were hanging out in her apartment.
According to previous testimony, the alleged victim initially told the ex-boyfriend that she had made a mistake.
“This isn’t victim’s guilt, it’s just guilt,” Fisher said. “Because she is hiding something, she doesn’t tell him this is a 2:30-in-the-morning dinner.”
The ex-boyfriend, who testified last Thursday, initially said he and the alleged victim broke up after the alleged sexual assault and later changed his testimony to say they broke up before the alleged assault.
“Somebody’s lying. Why? Because something’s being covered up,” Fisher said.
Finally, Fisher said that while jurors heard all two hours of audio recording of Nguyen’s interview with officers, the alleged victim’s three hours of interviews were never scrutinized in court.
“Frank is just not the kind of person who’s capable of this. This takes a special kind of person,” Fisher said. “The only victim in this case is Frank.”
If jurors fail to reach an agreement on either charge, they can still find Nguyen guilty of lesser charges of attempted sexual penetration or simple battery.
A verdict is expected this week.