Jury finds Conaway guilty of fourth-degree rape

GEORGETOWN — An ex-University of Delaware baseball player was convicted Friday of raping a woman whom he met online.

Jurors found 23-year-old Clay Conaway guilty of fourth-degree rape after 10 days of testimony and arguments. Conaway was taken away in handcuffs after the verdict was read.

The offense, defined as intentional penetration with any object or body part without consent, carries no mandatory prison time, although sentences for this type of offense typically carry imprisonment of between zero and 30 months.

Sentencing will take place at a later date.

The 21-year-old woman who testified against Conaway cried after the verdict was read. She testified that Conaway raped her after she drove to his house in June 2018. The encounter happened three weeks after the two connected on the online meeting site Bumble, and he sent her a nude picture of himself.

She is among six women whom Conaway is accused of sexually assaulting between 2013 and 2018. A judge ordered separate trials involving each accuser.

The woman testified that she was surprised, then anxious and afraid, when consensual cuddling and kissing with Conaway quickly escalated to physical force and violence.

Under cross-examination, however, the woman admitted that she did not protest when he removed all her clothes as they lay in his bed. The woman also acknowledged that she told friends in the days leading up to her meeting with Conaway that she needed sex, and that she drove to his house knowing that he wanted to have sex.

“It’s the defendant, Clay Conaway, who is on trial,” prosecutor Casey Ewart reminded jurors in her closing argument Friday.

The woman told a detective hours after the incident that she repeatedly told Conaway to stop what he was doing.

The defense noted that a three-page chronology she typed up before a second police interview doesn’t indicate that she ever told Conaway “no,” only that she asked him several times what he was doing. Defense attorneys suggested that the woman became angry and upset after Conaway received a phone call and told her abruptly that she had to leave because he was going to the gym with a friend.

A sexual assault examiner testified that she found no visible injuries on the woman, and that she did not tell her she had been strangled or choked. The nurse said the woman, who testified that Conaway put his hand on her throat and choked her, complained only that her right wrist hurt. Prosecutors alleged, however, that the women suffered a hip injury when Conaway pinned her legs up near her shoulders.

Two days after her sexual assault exam, the woman returned to the hospital complaining of hip pain. She was diagnosed with hip strain and told to take ibuprofen.

Attorney General Kathy Jennings released the following statement after the verdict was announced:

“The message today is no means no. I am grateful for the jury’s decision, for the work of our excellent trial team, for the investigative work of the Delaware State Police, and especially for the survivor of Mr. Conaway’s rape, who throughout this trial endured needless disrespect and insinuations about her integrity. Going through this kind of trial takes incredible strength, and I recognize the courage of the survivor for putting herself under a microscope to ensure that justice was served.”

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