Opening statements at Neal trial show sides' approach

Credibility, consent to be key issues in courtroom battle

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 Credibility and consent will be the deciding issues in a rape trial that pits the testimony of a teenage babysitter against a well-known defense attorney.

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Joe Neal (far right) sits in the courtroom during his trial in Augusta.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Joe Neal (far right) sits in the courtroom during his trial in Augusta.

Opening statements Tuesday showed that the prosecution will portray Joe Neal Jr., 43, as a calculating man who steered a graphic conversation about sex into a drunken “threesome” among himself, his now ex-wife, Caroline Caldwell Neal, and an 18-year-old woman on Dec. 16.

“The whole time they’re prepping her,” said Assistant District Attorney Geoffrey Fogus as he told jurors about the wine and marijuana that the babysitter said was consumed before the sex began.

Neal’s attorney, Tom Withers, cast doubt from the outset on the alleged victim’s statements to Richmond County sheriff’s investigators and painted her as the instigator of the entire event.

“Mr. Fogus is going to tell you (the victim) was too drunk to consent … but what you’re going to see is that (the victim) was the first one up the stairs,” Withers said.

Neither attorney disputed that the case will frequently veer into explicit detail during the trial and apologized several times to jurors for the descriptive language they used to describe the sexual intercourse.

“We just have to call it like it is,” Fogus said.

The general timeline of events brings the teenager to the couple’s home on Kings Way the night before a Christmas party, but the roles of the players are disputed. The state’s case has Caroline Neal and the victim sharing a bottle of wine over a conversation about sex. The defendant wandered in and out on the conversation until he took an active role in suggesting a “three-way,” Fogus said. It’s Withers’ contention that the victim first broached the subject.

Fogus said that Neal suggested the babysitter go upstairs to smoke marijuana and eventually convinced her to lie on his bed with his wife.

Intercourse between the teenager and Neal only lasted about 30 seconds, but Fogus said she was unaware it was occurring because of her drunken state.

Withers said that the babysitter was the first one to get on the bed and that she consented to the intercourse. He also emphasized that she and Neal exchanged sexually explicit text messages the next day.

“She texted dozens and dozens of times over the next six hours. Do you text your rapist?” Withers asked.

The first witness is expected to testify this morning.

Comments (14) Add comment
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Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 06/05/12 - 07:33 pm
2
5
Is marijuana a date rape

Is marijuana a date rape drug? Let's not legalize it.

raul
4876
Points
raul 06/05/12 - 10:09 pm
3
1
I expected more comments.

I expected more comments. But, what can you say?

OJP
6634
Points
OJP 06/05/12 - 10:29 pm
6
1
Texts?

If those texts were positive about the experience, I'd have a hard time voting to convict were I on that jury.

JRC2024
8879
Points
JRC2024 06/06/12 - 03:58 am
5
0
If she was too drunk and high

If she was too drunk and high to know what was going on how does she know it only lasted 30 seconds? Does not sound right to me.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/06/12 - 04:45 am
6
0
Remember the song "60 Minute

Remember the song "60 Minute Man?" 30 second man?

TrulyWorried
14271
Points
TrulyWorried 06/06/12 - 07:55 am
3
1
Neal Trial

I suspect that this will be the most read news story in the next few days, weeks, whatever. One does not have to go far to read what used to be a 'no no' not too long ago. What a sad world we live in.
And the comments on this subject will be overwhelming.

redapples
660
Points
redapples 06/06/12 - 08:46 am
4
0
I would like to say that I am

I would like to say that I am shocked and surprised by this, but I'm not. Have you seen the smut on reality TV lately? You don't even have to watch the shows, just being exposed to the commercials is more than enough! This stuff is commonplace, unfortunately.

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 06/06/12 - 09:12 am
4
0
Subpeona

I wonder which side will call the ex Mrs. Neal to testify?

TrulyWorried
14271
Points
TrulyWorried 06/06/12 - 09:33 am
1
1
Smut on TV and elsewhere

redapples - you are so right - this whole world revolves around filth, sex and violence - how can we change it - we can't - I, for my own person, ignore it - don't go to the movies and certainly don't watch TV, except for the news and one wonders there - - -

Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 06/06/12 - 10:32 am
2
2
Rainy day, not much to do.

Rainy day, not much to do. Can we bring popcorn to the trial?

kiwiinamerica
942
Points
kiwiinamerica 06/06/12 - 10:58 am
0
0
He said, she said........
Unpublished

If "innocent until proven guilty" still applies, conflicting testimony does not form a basis for conviction. The text messages, if existing as claimed, should be sufficient for acquittal.

raul
4876
Points
raul 06/06/12 - 11:25 am
2
0
Sean, is anyone from the AC

Sean, is anyone from the AC tweeting court coverage today?

seenitB4
87304
Points
seenitB4 06/06/12 - 11:40 am
3
1
soapy...so true

True---as can be soapy......swapping partys going on all over---even the neighborhood these folks live in...they just don't know what goes on behind the doors...
One day I just might write a book about what I know about Augusta & the people who make the headlines...:)

Names will be changed to protect the innocents.

Sean Moores
385
Points
Sean Moores 06/06/12 - 11:54 am
2
0
@ Raul

Kyle Martin should be tweeting from court today. I haven't checked yet but I will as soon as I get a chance.

Sean Moores
385
Points
Sean Moores 06/06/12 - 11:58 am
2
0
Kyle is tweeting from Neal trial

Yes he definitely is.
@reporterKM

raul
4876
Points
raul 06/06/12 - 12:42 pm
2
0
@Sean. Thanks.

@Sean. Thanks.

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