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Prosecution rests after witnesses testify about victim’s drunken behavior

January 23, 1997

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) _ Prosecutors rested today in the rape trial of a West Point cadet after several witnesses testified about his accuser’s appearance and drunken behavior during a house party.

The prosecution was trying to show that the 20-year-old woman, a junior at the U.S. Military Academy, was drunk and therefore incapable of consenting to have sex.

Senior James P. Engelbrecht was court-martialed for assaulting the woman on May 24 during a Memorial Day weekend party at the home of another cadet in Stockholm, N.J. He has claimed that the woman climbed into the top bunk bed where he was sleeping and initiated sex.

It was not clear this morning as defense lawyers opened their case whether Engelbrecht, 22, of Conroe, Texas, would take the stand. It is the first time a cadet has accused a classmate of rape.

Jenny Ligon, a college student from Lubbock, Texas, was among 10 prosecution witnesses who testified Wednesday that the woman drank heavily throughout the evening and into the early hours of May 25, which was her birthday.

``At one point, it looked like she was going to walk into a wall,″ Ms. Ligon said.

Cadet Daniel Cox said he, too, saw the woman drinking, and said she ``was swaying around a little bit as she walked.″

Conviction on the rape charge could bring Engelbrecht life in prison, dismissal from the Army and loss of all pay and benefits. He is also charged with committing an indecent act, meaning the sex act took place in front of another person. The charge carries five years in prison.

U.S. Army officer William Blair, a former cadet, testified that he was sleeping in the bunk under Engelbrecht and heard a woman giggling. But he said he did not hear or see any sexual activity.

Blair said the next morning, he saw the woman lying in the top bunk and later saw blood on a sheet. The woman’s sister had testified that she told her she had lost her virginity that night.

A two-thirds majority is required for a verdict from the all-male jury of seven senior Army officers.

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