San Diego

Ex-Navy Attempted Rape Trial Continues: ‘Does This Not Look Like Rape To You?'

In the continuation of an attempted rape trial against a former U.S. Navy officer Friday, the defense suggested the alleged victim may have embellished details to avoid punishment for violating the military’s fraternization rule.

Former Navy commander John Michael Neuhart II is charged with attempted forcible rape, assault with intent to rape, hot prowl burglary and resisting arrest for events that took place in San Diego on Sept. 12, 2016 with his Navy colleague, identified in court proceedings as Kristen B.

Neuhart pleaded not guilty to charges.

Kristen B. testified that earlier that day she attended a country-western concert with colleagues, before meeting up with them and other friends, including Neuhart, that night at the lobby bar of the downtown Manchester Grand Hyatt.

Kristen B. eventually ended up alone with Neuhart at the hotel’s rooftop bar.

Kristen B. admitted to Neuhart’s defense attorney Friday she knew it was wrong for her to be alone with Neuhart at the bar because both of them could get in trouble for violating military rules that prohibit senior officers from socializing alone, with junior officers of the opposite sex.

The defense attorney’s line of questioning seemed to insinuate that Kristen B. may have embellished the alleged attack to avoid being charged with violating the fraternization rule.

Responding to questions from prosecutor Jennifer Tag, the alleged victim insisted she never consented to having sex with Neuhart.

“It was clearly not what I wanted,” Kristen B. said on the stand Friday. She said at one point at her home she told Neuhart “Does this not look like rape to you?”

Kristen B. admitted she and Neuhart talked at the hotel bar about a “safe word,” but she also testified that she never agreed to use it in any sort of “rape fantasy” game.

But some of her testimony in court Friday appeared inconsistent with details she gave investigators in the hours after the alleged rape attempt.

During Friday's testimony, Kirsten B. told the defense attorney Neuhart took off her pants against her will. Previously, she told investigators he never got her pants off. On the stand she said Neuhart never forced the front door open, despite telling investigators that he did.

Kristen B. has maintained that she remembers little to nothing about the details of that night.

On Thursday, she told the courtroom she had more than 10 drinks throughout the day and night leading up to the alleged attempted rape.

She testified that she pushed him out of her home, but prosecutors say Neuhart returned through the doors on her back balcony. 

A neighbor heard screams and ran to the front of the house to ask if the victim was okay. When she answered no, the neighbor called 911 and said through the window that the police were on the way. 

A 41-minute cellphone video captured on Neuhart's phone that night was played in the courtroom Wednesday. It showed Neuhart running from the home as it continued to record video from inside the defendant's pocket. 

The neighbor flagged down police when they arrived and pointed out Neuhart, who was running down the street and into a nearby canyon. 

The former commander has been in the military for more than 15 years. Neuhart was the commanding officer of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, based at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam.

If convicted, Neuhart could face life in prison.

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