Jury starts deliberation in airport rape case

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Noel Bertrand

Noel Bertrand

WARNING: The following story contains some graphic descriptions of sexual activity that some may find offensive.

DENVER –The jury considering whether an ex-marine sexually assaulted a woman on a concourse at Denver International Airport went home Thursday without reaching a verdict. Deliberations will resume Friday morning.

Earlier in the day, Sitting up straight and using the formal rhetoric of a Marine, the man accused in the case took the stand at his own sexual assault trial Thursday.

Noel Bertrand, 26, testified he was “surprised” when he was informed he was being accused of violently raping a woman he met at an airport bar, saying he was “more concerned” about a looming public indecency charge.

The sex he had with his then-22-year-old accuser was consensual, Bertrand said, and took place after she propositioned him at the bar.

“She told me at the bar she wasn’t wearing panties and asked if I liked that,” Bertrand said. “I said ‘yes.'”

When pressed by a prosecutor about why he hadn’t provided that information about the woman’s advances to an investigating detective, Bertrand responded that he “purposefully withheld that information” to “protect” the woman.

When the prosecutor asked if the woman ever asked Bertrand to stop, the ex-Marine said “No, m’am, she didn’t.”

“It was a dominant-submissive type situation,” Bertrand said. “She had two orgasms in five minutes. It was a very passionate time. … I must have misread the situation. Maybe she was submissive because she didn’t know how to respond. Maybe she was inexperienced.”

The woman accusing Bertrand of rape testified on Wednesday, as did the two airport security guards who found Bertrand and the woman engaged in sexual intercourse inside a vacant DIA concourse.

Jurors winced as the woman described the altercation, saying Bertand repeatedly assaulted her from behind as her pants were down, choking her within inches of losing consciousness before the two security guards arrived.

Mark Adams and Chris Musil pulled Bertrand off the woman, and the security guards testified that Bertrand first appeared enraged before trying to hug both of them.

“He told us, ‘I guess you don’t know the difference between rough sex and fighting,’” Adams said.

The defense and prosecution presented closing arguments to jurors Thursday afternoon. “Her injuries are completely consistent with what she told you: clear injury that is on half of her behind,” the prosecutor said.

“The DNA is consistent with what she told you. Mark Adams and Chris Musil said she was crying. Everyone saw her crying.”

“She’s frozen, the defendant was hugging her.’I’m gonna go now’ (he told Adams and Musil.) They wouldn’t let him,” the prosecutor said.

“She’s not consenting. He just went too far. Do you think (her injuries) are playful and funny?”

“This is not kinky sex gone wrong. This is a brutal attack on a girl from a small town. This is not sex or lovemaking, this is sexual assault.”

Then the defense presented its closing arguments.

“(She) was embarrassed because their sex acts were interrupted. Regret and misapprehension. Consensual foreplay. She was conflicted about her behavior.”

“Noel Bertrand is innocent,” his defense attorney told the jury. “We wear a cloak of innocence to protect us from the state.”

“She slides a book over with a note, ‘I’m not wearing any panties,’ she’s so conflicted.” The defense attorney went on to say she admitted to having an orgasm during the incident.

The jury went home Thursday without reaching a verdict. Its deliberations will resume Friday morning.

FOX31’s Kolin Lawler contributed to this report.

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