Kevin Olsen rape trial opens with examination of mercurial relationship with accuser

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In the early morning hours, after a night of drinking and escalating arguments, Kevin Olsen tried to kill himself in the bathroom of his off-campus apartment with the cord of a cell phone charger, his former girlfriend testified Monday.

Then Olsen’s anger, which had surfaced throughout the night in the packed clubs of the Epicentre, erupted once more in his bedroom, she said.

Olsen, a former UNC Charlotte quarterback, struck her repeatedly with a pillow and then began beating her with his fists, the former girlfriend said. After he had bruised her body and blackened her left eye, she said, Olsen got into a fetal position and began to sob.

Without warning the crying stopped, the accuser said, and Olsen told her he wanted sex. She said she was too scared to say no or resist.

During the sex, she said she cried and held her injured eye. Olsen, she testified, grew angry again.

“He told me he couldn’t have sex with me crying like that,” the now-25-year-old woman said.

Those details were among the hours of intimate testimony on Monday that opened Olsen’s rape trial.

Olsen, the 23-year-old younger brother of Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, is charged with three counts of second-degree rape, along with several other crimes. If convicted by the jury of nine men and three women, he could spend up to 10 years in prison on each rape count.

The trial could last more than two weeks. Key evidence will focus not only on what was said and done at the critical times, but what was texted, emailed and Instagrammed.

The Observer does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault. Superior Court Judge Karen Eady-Williams also directed the media not to photograph or video the woman while she testified.

On Monday, the testimony dove deep into a mercurial relationship.

Assistant District Attorney Jane Honeycutt said Olsen and his girlfriend had begun to bicker by text after becoming separated in the late Saturday night throngs packing the Epicentre on Feb. 18, 2017. Afterward, the woman had tried to act as a peacemaker when the pair returned to Olsen’s apartment, Honeycutt said.

“Just when she thought it had worked … he became furious. And he attacked her,” the prosecutor said, pausing to let each detail linger.

“He attacked her with his words. He attacked her with his fists. He delivered blow after blow to her head. To her arms. To her stomach. To her face.”

Olsen’s father-and-daughter defense team, George and Bree Laughrun, said that the charges are unfounded. In her opening statement, Bree Laughrun described Olsen’s accuser as being a demanding and emotionally fragile girlfriend who dreamed of being Olsen’s wife and dreaded the prospect of breaking up.

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On the night that the alleged assault took place, the accuser sent a text saying that she was looking forward to a night of “hot sex and some porn,” Bree Laughrun told the jurors.

After the alleged assault, Bree Laughrun said, the accuser texted a friend with this description of her former boyfriend: “He is not a rapist.”

Bree Laughrun then walked across the courtroom and stood by Olsen, who was sitting at the defense table in front of three rows of his family and friends.

“He is not a rapist,” she repeated.

After the alleged assaults, Olsen’s accuser testified that she thought the same thing.

“I didn’t know I could be raped while I was dating him,” she told Assistant District Attorney Kristen Northrup.

“Did you think you couldn’t be raped because you didn’t say no,” Northrup asked.

“Yes,” the woman said.

Olsen’s accuser now lives in Winston-Salem and hopes to finish her college degree in criminal psychology in the coming year. She and members of her family have attended some of Olsen’s preliminary hearings. When she entered the courtroom Monday morning as the prosecution’s opening witness, she stopped and took several breaths before taking the stand.

She stayed there for most of the day. Over a period of hours — testifying through tears and with intimate detail that she said her family had not heard before now — she recounted her relationship with Olsen and how she said it went wrong.

She said she was talked into going out with the then-49er football player by a friend. On the first date, she said, they drank wine, smoked marijuana and had sex. She said she thought that would be the end of it, but Olsen had messaged her that he wanted to go out again.

Soon, they were spending much of their free time together. She said he was the first to say that it was love, and that the pair talked of getting married. But Olsen, she said, was a serial cheater and that she had caught him in at least six infidelities during their time together.

On the day after Valentines Day 2017, she said she had confronted him about another affair. After talking they decided to try again, she said.

“I got him to promise to stop cheating, I believed him every time,” she testified. “Before I left we had consensual sex. Everything seemed back to normal.”

During the argument by text that Saturday night in the Epicentre, the woman said Olsen began calling her a “bitch” and a “whore.” For the first time in their relationship, she said, he also threatened to kill her.

She went home with him just the same, she said.

There, she said, his anger targeted her and himself — how he wasn’t living up to his brother Greg, an NFL all-star with a sterling personal reputation; how he worried what his parents, who were listening stone-faced in the courtroom during the testimony, thought, she said.

She said Olsen grabbed a 10-foot, blue phone charging cord and disappeared into his bathroom. After a couple of minutes of silence, she said she went after him. She said she found him with the phone cord wrapped around his neck. The other end was tied to the frame of the shower door.

“I could tell he was struggling to breathe,” she said.

The beating that soon followed began with a pillow, she said. Then Olsen straddled her while she lay flat on the bed and began using his fists, starting with her stomach and moving upward until he struck her in her left eye, she said. The jurors later saw a photo of the bruise.

When she testified about the sex that followed, she said she never consented and never really took part. Instead she said she was fixed on how much her body hurt.

“It was like how you feel after a car accident, I hurt everywhere,” she said.

“Did you fight back?” Northrup asked her.

“No.”

“Did you try to escape?

“No.”

“Why?” Northrup asked.

“I was scared,” the woman said. “I didn’t know what he was going to do next.”

She said Olsen was too drunk and tired to finish the sex. After he fell asleep, she said she put on some of his clothes, left the room and ran to the bedroom of Olsen’s roommate, who was inside with a woman.

Before she could say anything, she testified, the woman saw her eye and stopped her. “Did Kevin do that to you?” she asked.

The woman drove her back to her own car, the accuser said, and she returned to her own apartment.

There, she said, she took off all of her clothes and stood before a mirror.

She said she wanted to see all of her bruises.

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