University senior charged with rape

University police arrested senior Robert Allen Harris, 22, early Friday morning and charged him with felonies and misdemeanors including second-degree rape, first-degree burglary and assault on a female, according to police reports.

The acts allegedly were committed against a female UNC student who is an acquaintance of Harris, reports state. Police responded at 4:10 a.m. to a 911 call after someone entered the victim's unlocked South Campus residence hall room and assaulted her, reports state. Upon arrival, police noted that the victim had visible injuries consisting of bruises and scratches, and she was transported to UNC Hospitals, said University police Maj. Jeff McCracken. A warrant was issued against Harris, and he was arrested and detained at Orange County Jail under a $10,000 secured bond shortly after. Harris could not be reached for comment Sunday.


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Rape trial testimony continues
By: Chris Glazner
Assistant City EditorIssue date: 2/23/04 Section: CityPrintEmail Article Tools Page 1 of 1
Media Credit: Nina LaTassa
Rape suspect Robert Allen Harris' trial continues today at 10 a.m. with more testimony.

HILLSBOROUGH -- The rape trial of former UNC football player Robert Allen Harris continued Friday with testimony from seven witnesses, including law enforcement officers and a student who claims Harris raped her in 2002.

The day began with Assistant Public Defender Glenn Gerding continuing his cross-examination of Harris' accuser, who said Thursday that Harris, her ex-boyfriend, broke into her room and sexually assaulted her in March 2003.

Although the accuser's name was released in court, it is The Daily Tar Heel's policy not to publish names or other identifying information about individuals who claim sexual assault.

Gerding tried to show inconsistencies between the woman's court testimony and interviews conducted immediately after the incident and last summer.

Gerding's claims included an instance in which the accuser told police that Harris' first sexual act was performing oral sex on her, while she testified at the trial that he first forced intercourse on her.

Later that morning, Assistant District Attorney Lynn Kelly called to testify a former UNC student who claimed Harris raped her in 2002, but Gerding protested the admissibility of her testimony.

Federal evidence rules allow evidence of past crimes to be used only to prove a defendant's intent or plan to commit a crime, not to establish his character.

Superior Court Judge John Jolly conducted pretrial hearings on whether to allow the testimony and heard arguments from both attorneys again Friday.

He decided to allow the woman to testify, citing similarities that made the previous incident relevant to the trial.

But he warned Kelly that the woman's testimony might lead an appeals court to overturn the case if Harris were found guilty.

The woman, a former UNC student, described an incident that occurred when she and Harris were casually dating in the summer of 2002.

She said that during a study date she got into bed with Harris and allowed him to take off his clothes, but he then pinned her down and forced her to have sex with him.

Gerding asked if it was possible that Harris had not understood her when she told him he was committing rape. "I don't think it's possible for Rob to receive that message," she responded. "I think he honestly did not know that he was doing something wrong."

The woman said she did not report the incident to the police at the time but came forward when she learned that Harris had been charged with a similar crime.

Kelly developed her case against Harris by calling to the stand three UNC Department of Public Safety officers who fleshed out the account given by Harris' accuser.

Officer Macy Lassiter said she responded to a call of a domestic incident at about 4 a.m. March 29, 2003. She said she ran up the stairs of the residence hall to find the accuser locked out of her room.

Although Lassiter did not see Harris, she said, she learned from the woman that he was shirtless and wearing jeans and radioed this description to Officer Todd Nelson.

Nelson testified that he arrived at the residence hall after Lassiter and spotted a shirtless male leaving the area.

He said he asked the "cooperative" suspect to come over and arrested him with help from another officer on charges of assault.

In the patrol car, a report came that the incident might have been a sexual assault. Harris was surprised to learn that he was being charged with a sexual crime, Nelson said.

Lt. Archie Daniel, the detective in charge of the case, spoke to Harris after interviewing the accuser at UNC Hospitals. He said that Harris was upset that he was under arrest and that Harris claimed his accuser had started the fight.

Kelly showed Daniel and the jury photographs of the accuser, which Daniel took the morning after the crime. Daniel used the photographs to aid his description of the accuser's injuries, which included bruises and scrapes on her body. The woman's eye was swollen in several photographs.

Both Lassiter and Daniel said that when they first saw the woman she was visibly upset and obviously had been injured.

Kelly also called as a witness a student who lived next door to the accuser at the time of the incident.

The student said she came home at about 2 a.m. March 29, 2003 and heard noises and shouting coming from the room.

After student and her roommate called a resident assistant and no apparent action was taken, they called the police at 4 a.m., following a loud crash.

Jolly adjourned the proceedings as Kelly was questioning Rebecca Wheeler, a sexual assault nurse examiner who conducted a rape kit on the accuser at UNC Hospitals.

The trial will resume today at 10 a.m.

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