At Douglas County rape trial, woman describes being attacked as a teen while bystander refused to help

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

The Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center is pictured in March of 2022. The center houses the Douglas County District Court and other county services.

A woman on Thursday told a Douglas County jury how she tried to fight off an alleged rapist and how another man who was in the room refused to help her.

The man accused of sexually assaulting the woman is Ray Charles Atkins Jr., 22, of Lawrence. He is charged with one count of rape, which is a level-one felony. The charges relate to an incident on July 19, 2019, in the 2900 block of Belle Haven Drive, when Atkins is alleged to have assaulted the woman when he was 19 and she was 17, according to charging documents.

She said that as she wrestled with a drunk Atkins, his friend, whom she only knew as “Vonnie,” ignored her pleas for help. She said he looked at her and said, “That’s not my problem,” then left the room. She said she then went numb.

The woman, from Wichita, said that she had been visiting her sister in Lawrence to help around the house because her sister had recently broken her hand. She said her sister picked her up in Wichita a week before the incident. When they got to Lawrence on July 12, 2019, they hosted a party at her sister’s that attracted the attention of police.

“People were jumping out of the windows because they didn’t want to get arrested,” the woman said.

The woman, her sister, Atkins and two others had locked themselves in the sister’s bedroom to avoid the police. When the party was over, the woman said she and Atkins — both of whom had been drinking — went to another room and had consensual sex — an experience that she said she did not enjoy and did not intend to repeat because Atkins had been too rough.

A few days later the woman had developed a sore throat and fever and ended up at the hospital, where she received a steroid shot, she said. After she left the hospital, the woman had a seizure in the car, and paramedics took her back to the hospital, she said.

She said that she had seizures regularly because of a neurological condition and that she usually needed a day or two to recover and that her legs would remain numb. When she was discharged from the hospital she needed help walking, she said.

The next day, she said, she wasn’t feeling better but needed to get out of the house, so she went to a pool party with her sister and some other people, including Atkins. After the pool party, the woman returned with her sister, Atkins and Vonnie to her sister’s house. When the sister left to pick up a friend, Atkins assaulted her, she said, while she was weakened from the seizure’s effects and while Vonnie refused to defend her.

Afterward, the woman said she locked herself in another room and called her best friend and told her about the incident. She said she returned to Wichita a few days later and also told her mother, who took her to the hospital for a sexual assault exam.

The nurse who conducted the woman’s exam on July 23, 2019, testified that she found evidence of multiple injuries to the girl’s body that were consistent with a sexual assault.

Atkins’ defense attorney, Nicholas David, said that the woman’s timeline of events from the week was inconsistent and that the woman’s sister had deleted multiple text messages between the two women to cover up the fact that they were regularly smoking marijuana during the week.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Seth Brackman said that the woman might not remember exactly what day she attended the pool party but she did remember that after the party she was assaulted by Atkins.

The trial, which started Tuesday, will continue on Friday. Atkins is out of jail on a $10,000 bond.