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Penn State
No sexual assault, says PSU's Phillips

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

By Dan Lewerenz, The Associated Press

BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- Penn State's Anwar Phillips acknowledged that he had sex with a female friend last fall, but denied sexually assaulting her.

Phillips' testimony at trial yesterday was the first public statement he has made regarding the accusation, which resulted in his temporary expulsion from the university. In March he was charged with sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault, both felonies.

On the stand, Phillips acknowledged that he engaged in sexual intercourse with the woman, who has since left the university. But he said the sex was consensual and that she had been the initiator.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Tony DeBoef said the woman had consented during sex, but changed her mind afterward. "In the cold, gray dawn of the morning, after this allegedly occurred, regret has probably moved into the picture," DeBoef said.

The woman, who was the first witness yesterday, said she and Phillips met during the summer of 2001, when both arrived early to start at Penn State. She began as a freshman with summer courses; Phillips first enrolled that fall.

She said that in the year and a half she knew Phillips they became close friends. He told her several times that he wanted to date her, she said, but she told him she wasn't interested.

The woman said Phillips had tried to kiss her Nov. 10, but that he backed off when she said she didn't want to. On Nov. 12, she said, Phillips came to her apartment in the morning and again tried to kiss her. At first, she rejected him; then she kissed him, she said, so as not to hurt his feelings.

She said Phillips then pushed her down onto her bed and began fondling and undressing her, even after she told him to stop. When she told him to stop, she said, he simply started touching a different part of her body.

She bristled when defense attorney Lee Nollau asked whether she ever told Phillips to stop entirely.

"If you say no, why should I have to clarify," she said. "Maybe it's just a different rule of sexual activity that I don't know about."

Phillips, when he took the stand, said the woman repeatedly had kissed him during their friendship and that she had initiated both November incidents. He said he didn't want to have sex with her that morning, but that every time they stopped she started up again.

Phillips said she asked him to stop when he began to initiate oral sex, and that he stopped. He said she reinitiated the sexual encounter, and that she did not object when he indicated he wanted intercourse.

"I would have stopped if she told me," Phillips said. "She didn't tell me anything."

After they had finished, Phillips said the woman became angry when he asked whether she used birth control.

While cross examining Phillips, Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar read several portions of a police interview in which Phillips said the woman had asked him to stop. Phillips said those were references to oral sex, and that he had stopped then.

The defense planned to call its final witness today, and the jury is expected to get the case late this morning.

The case has generated tremendous criticism for Penn State Coach Joe Paterno, who allowed Phillips, a defensive back, to play in the Capital One Bowl against Auburn Jan. 1, nearly three weeks after Phillips was expelled. Although the expulsion hearing was Dec. 13, the expulsion was not set to take effect until the spring semester began in mid-January.

Neither Paterno nor Athletic Director Tim Curley has said when they learned of the accusations against Phillips, and Paterno still won't say whether Phillips will return to the team.

University President Graham Spanier has said Phillips should not have been allowed to play. Since then; university policies have been changed to require that the athletic director be notified personally of judicial proceedings involving student athletes.

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