At the time that a text message containing a kiss emoji was sent to ex-Badger Quintez Cephus by one of two alleged victims of sexual assault, the woman who sent the message was unaware what had happened to her at Cephus’ apartment, according to testimony from the woman Wednesday at Cephus’ trial.
The woman, the second of two who say Cephus sexually assaulted them during a night at his apartment last year, testified Wednesday she was extremely intoxicated and has almost no memory of what happened that night, and only learned hours later that she may have been sexually assaulted after receiving a phone call from her friend, the other woman who said Cephus had assaulted her.
That woman testified at Cephus’ trial on Tuesday.
Cephus, 21, of Macon, Georgia, is charged with second- and third-degree sexual assault for the April 22, 2018, incident at his Spring Street apartment. Cephus was a wide receiver for the Wisconsin Badgers football team until he was suspended from the team in August. He has since been expelled from UW-Madison.
In his opening statement Monday, Cephus’ attorney Stephen Meyer highlighted a text message sent to Cephus from the woman which read, “If you find my Juul, LMK” — referring to the woman’s vaping device and the acronym for “let me know” — followed by kiss and heart emojis.
Meyer told the jury the text was an indication that sex between Cephus and the woman was consensual.
But on the witness stand Wednesday, the woman said she was so drunk from late April 21 through April 22 that she did not consent to sex with Cephus and remembers only a few brief “snapshots” of events.
Among the things she doesn’t remember, she testified, is fleeing from Cephus’ apartment building and using the Uber cellphone app to summon a driver, who took her back to her dorm. One of her friends, along with Cephus and his roommate, Danny Davis, went to the woman’s dorm room to check on her a short time later, but the woman testified she had fallen asleep and when she saw Cephus and Davis, she didn’t know who they were.
The woman testified she didn’t know she may have been sexually assaulted until her best friend, the other woman who says Cephus assaulted her, called her in the morning and told her to go to the hospital for a sexual assault examination.
“I was in shock,” she said. “I was very grossed out. I didn’t want to deal with it at the moment. I didn’t want to do anything.”
The text message exchange began at 2:44 a.m. with a message from Cephus that simply read, “Daddy.”
About a half-hour later, the woman responded, “Hi.”
Cephus responded, “Hey baby.”
Six minutes later, the woman responded, “Sleeping. If you find my Juul, LMK,” followed by the kiss and heart emojis.
The woman testified she didn’t know how Cephus got her phone number and doesn’t remember giving it to him. The kiss and heart emojis, she said, she often uses in text conversations with friends and family members.
As for the vaping device, she said, “I was pretty addicted to the Juul” and just wanted it back.
On cross-examination, Cephus’ attorney Kathleen Stilling addressed the text exchange and asked why the woman had contacted Cephus and had not shown the text exchange to police detectives initially. She asked whether the exchange was “friendly.” The woman explained she had deleted the texts because “I didn’t want them on my phone anymore.”
Stilling questioned the woman about her drinking habits, her history of alcohol blackouts that caused her to change what she drinks, and about the visit to her dorm room from her other friend, who was with Cephus and Davis, after she had returned home from Cephus’ apartment.
Stilling showed the woman surveillance video of herself arriving at her dorm at 2:37 a.m. and making her way to her room. Asked how she managed to key herself into the building and up the elevator without any problems, given what she said her condition was, the woman said it was simply something she had done every day.
Stilling also asked how the woman decided to report what happened to police, after initially holding off.
“I decided to do it after I sobered up and had some time to think about it,” the woman said.
Jurors also heard from Dr. Karla Walker, clinical laboratory director at MedTox Laboratories in Minnesota, which analyzed a urine sample collected from the woman during her sexual assault examination. The sample, taken about 10 hours after the woman reported having her last drink, revealed a blood alcohol level of 0.068%.
By comparison, the legal limit to drive is 0.08 percent.
But Walker said on cross-examination that while urine can accurately measure alcohol concentration, it doesn’t provide as reliable a measure as blood. She also said the lab did not attempt to calculate the woman’s blood alcohol concentration at its peak through a process known as retrograde extrapolation.
Still, Walker said on cross-examination that even the presence of alcohol in the urine after 10 hours “implies something.”
“Depending on how high the concentration was, the presence after 10 hours is significant,” she said. “The fact that it’s there at all after 10 hours is certainly significant.”