The sexual assault trial of Charles McGee and Aubre Dickson neared a conclusion today as the state called its final witnesses, while the defense for both men rested without calling any witnesses or putting either defendant on the stand to testify.
In closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Amanda Nadell laid out the chronology of events that followed the alleged sexual assault of Erica Naito-Campbell by McGee and Dickson on May 10, 2012.
Nadell summarized testimony from the friends, family members and therapists whom Naito-Campbell had told about the events of that night. Those stories were consistent: She met McGee, 33, and Dickson, 44, for drinks at the University Club downtown. From there, the three crossed the Willamette River to a strip club and afterwards, went to McGee's home, where the alleged assault occurred.
Nadell said the events of that night devastated Naito-Campbell, 38, changing a woman who had been socially active and civically engaged into a hard-drinking recluse crippled by post traumatic stress disorder.
"Her friends and family know that Erica Naito-Campbell has been a shell of the person she was on the night of May 10 2012, the night her life was forever changed," Nadell told the court.
In response to defense arguments that Naito-Campbell had concocted a tale of sexual assault to write a book and capitalize on the #MeToo movement, Nadell cited notes from 26 counseling sessions Naito-Campbell attended after the incident in 2012 in which she repeatedly described her panic, anxiety and fear.
Nadell also pointed to documents that supported Naito-Campbell's account:
*A June 7, 2012 email from Dickson, in which he appeared to apologize. "I haven't been the same since that night," he wrote. "I want to make things right between us."
*A 2013 email from Naito-Campbell to WW, raising questions about McGee's suitability for public office.
*An October 2015 letter Naito-Campbell wrote to Dickson, in which she recounted the events of May 10, 2012 and urged him to advise McGee not to run for office.
Nadell said that attorneys for McGee and Dickson, rather than defending their clients' actions, were attempting to paint Naito-Campbell as the guilty party.
"If this were a trial about a mugging in an alley, witness testimony would not be met with this kind of skepticism," Nadell told the court. "Erica Naito-Campbell is not on trial, despite questions aimed at placing blame on her."
In her closing argument, Christine Mascal, McGee's attorney, highlighted what she said were discrepancies between the testimony of some of the prosecution witnesses and Naito-Campbell's testimony: how much she'd had to drink; whether she had used the word "rape" to describe what had happened to her on May 10, 2012, and other variations.
Mascal chipped away at Naito-Campbell's credibility in various ways, noting she was unemployed at the time of the alleged attack, had been abandoned by the biological father of the son she gave birth to at age 19, and had a strained relationship with her mother.
"She's trying to find an identity and become a poster child for the 'me too' movement," Mascal said.
Mascal also argued that Naito-Campbell led McGee and Dickson astray and then pointed a finger at them.
"The entire case presented by the state has ignored the intent of these two individuals [McGee and Dickson]," Mascal said. "They followed her lead. She was drinking. She was dancing. She didn't leave the strip club. She chose to go in [McGee's] house and continue the party. It was a drunken night with friends—and that's all it was."
Mascal noted Portland's long and troubled racial history and gestured to those observing the trial, sitting on benches divided between the mostly black supporters of McGee and Dickson, and the Asian and white supporters of Naito-Campbell.
"Look at this courtroom," Mascal said. "It continues to today."
In a final flourish, Mascal invoked the name of Alonzo Tucker, whom she said in 1902 became the only documented victim of lynching in Oregon history, after he was accused of raping a white woman. "The press called him a 'black fiend,'" Mascal said. "He was shot and hanged."
When Mascal finished, Stephen Houze began his closing argument in support of Dickson.
He also questioned why Naito-Campbell never reported the alleged assault, documented the bruises and vaginal injuries she claimed she suffered, or went to a hospital or private doctor for an examination.
"I would submit to the court that she didn't go to the hospital because there was no evidence to collect," Houze said.
He also questioned why Naito-Campbell put herself in what she said became a dangerous situation.
In her earlier testimony, Naito-Campbell testified that on the night of May 10, when she first got in McGee's car, McGee twice put his hand on her leg. She moved his hand away and reminded him he was a married man. "Not tonight, I'm not," she recalled him saying, adding that since he hoped to be mayor of Portland some day, they'd have to "be discreet."
Houze questioned why, if Naito-Campbell knew McGee had "sex on his mind," she would remain in his car and accompany him and Dickson to a strip club and later, to McGee's home, where the alleged assault took place. (Naito-Campbell previously testified that she considered Dickson a friend and thought he would protect her if McGee tried anything.)
"It's a lot easier," Houze told the court, "to blame other people than to accept responsibility for the poor choices we make in life."
Houze will conclude his closing argument on Thursday morning. When he finishes, the state will offer a final response and then Judge Rees will deliberate until he reaches verdicts for both defendants.
Update: 1 pm Thursday, March 21
Stephen Houze concluded his closing argument Thursday morning. He told Rees that the trial turned completely on the credibility of the alleged victim, Naito-Campbell.
"It appears that from her testimony Erica Naito-Campbell loves to go dancing," Houze said. "She has spent her life dancing on a high wire without a net, confident that when she falls, will be caught by family and friends."
Houze said Naito-Campbell was a liar, motivated by disappointment in her own lack of accomplishment after a "lifetime of reckless behavior" and a by a desire for fame.
"She took the witness stand and lied to the court about writing a book on this case," Houze said.
Houze urged Rees to consider the facts of the case, which he said absolutely failed to meet the state's burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Prosecutor Amity Girt replied to Houze and noted that neither he nor McGee's attorney had ever addressed one key fact in the case: the email Dickson sent Naito-Campbell in June 2012 in which he appeared to apologize for the events of May 10, 2012.
"This is not an email you send to somebody when you had a crazy, consensual threesome," Girt told the court. "This email has been completely ignored [by defense counsel] because it cannot be explained."
Girt said that far from being a liar, Naito-Campbell remained consistent for the past nearly seven years. She made a decision right after the alleged assault not to report what happened to authorities but to come forward someday if either of her alleged attackers ran for office.
"Erica Naito-Campbell kept her promise," Girt told the court. "She has nothing to gain from this. Her motive was always clear. She could not stand by knowing what she knew and let one of the men who assaulted her achieve a position of power and authority he was not fit for."
The state rested shortly before 10:30 am. Rees will now review the record and issue verdicts.