By Sarah Abfalter
A second trial began today in the case of Lang Her, a former UC Davis student charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, stemming from an incident that allegedly occurred after a college party back in July 2012. Her’s first trial in May 2015 ended with a hung jury voting 8 to 4 in favor of an acquittal.
The alleged victim in this case, referred to only as Y.X., filed a police report on July 11, 2012, that claimed she had fallen asleep in Her’s bedroom after drinking with friends at Her’s apartment, and awoke to find herself engaged in sexual conduct with the defendant.
According to the prosecution, Y.X. and friends had attended a party at the defendant’s apartment on the night of July 9, 2012. Y.X. was reportedly intoxicated when the defendant and a mutual friend helped carry her upstairs to the defendant’s bedroom. Y.X. passed out and alleged she was awoken as she was being sexually assaulted by the defendant.
During the first day of trial, the prosecution called five different witnesses, including one of Y.X.’s professors, as well as four other students who attended the same party at Her’s apartment the night the incident allegedly occurred.
According to the testimony of the four students, Y.X. was visibly intoxicated at the party, was having trouble standing up and balancing, and was ultimately taken upstairs by a friend. However, there was some discrepancy as to whether or not the defendant assisted in bringing Y.X. up to his bedroom. All four of the students also testified to seeing the defendant drinking that night, but no one could recall specifically how much was consumed by either Y.X. or the defendant.
According to a close friend who reportedly assisted Y.X. upstairs, it had been common practice in the past for Y.X. and other friends to use Her’s room as a place to sleep after drinking at his residence, and no other incidents had ever occurred.
However, on this particular night, the same friend testified that, after leaving the party, she received multiple text messages from Y.X. asking why she had left her at the party alone and asking her not to speak to the defendant. Further, the friend testified that at 3:00 am she received a phone call from Y.X., at which time she heard Y.X. crying, but Y.X. was mostly unresponsive.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Christopher Carlos repeatedly questioned the details of the students’ testimony, focusing in on the fact that none of the witnesses who were present the night the incident is alleged to have occurred could specifically remember time frames or how much alcohol was consumed by either Y.X. or the defendant. There were also discrepancies among the students’ testimonies about exactly how intoxicated Y.X. was and whether she really required assistance to go up to Her’s bedroom.
When cross-examining each witness, Carlos repeatedly questioned the accuracy of each witness’ memory of the events that occurred at the party. Due to the hung jury in the last trial, almost three and a half years have now passed since the night of the party. Several of the witnesses admitted that their memory of the night is unclear, due to the length of time that has passed since the incident allegedly occurred.