Jurors have cleared NBA star Derrick Rose and two friends in a lawsuit that accused them of gang raping his ex-girlfriend when she was incapacitated from drugs or alcohol.
The jury reached the verdict Wednesday in Los Angeles federal court after hearing dramatically different accounts of the August 2013 sexual encounter.
Rose did not appear to react when the verdict was announced. The accuser buried her head in her hands.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Rose said the was thankful that the jury rejected the lawsuit. Rose said in the statement that it was important to prove he did not do what he was accused of, even though he had to share private details of his personal life.
"I am thankful that the jury understood and agreed with me," his statement said. "This experience and my sensitivity to it was deep. I am ready to put this behind me and focus on my family and career."
The 30-year-old woman at the center of the trial -- an ex-girlfriend of the NBA star -- sued Rose and longtime friends Ryan Allen and Randy Hampton for $21.5 million in damages for allegedly conspiring to sexually assault her in the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 27, 2013, as she lay incapacitated.
Waukeen McCoy, the attorney for the woman, said the verdict is "a shame."
"It's a sad, sad day for America," he said.
In closing arguments Tuesday afternoon, a defense attorney told the jury that the lawsuit was a blatant attempt to get money from Rose because he broke up with her by text and didn't seem to care that she had sex with his buddies earlier in the evening.
The plaintiff's lawyer countered that his client was assaulted by Rose and his friends -- whom he called "sexual deviants" -- while she was either drunk or drugged and has yet to fully recover.
"She wants money," Rose's lawyer, Mark Baute, told the jury. "She was upset with Derrick for ending their relationship. She is not a real rape victim -- she is a liar."
A string of witnesses testified in federal court for both sides, and the defendants each told the jury that they had been invited to the plaintiff's downtown home for consensual sex hours after they all had partied together at Rose's rented Beverly Hills mansion.
Calling the allegations "a classic case of gang rape," the woman's attorney, Waukeen McCoy, insisted his client was "not looking for a quick dollar. She is looking for accountability." McCoy asked the eight-member panel to "hold these men accountable for their actions."
By painting the woman as sexually aggressive and inquiring about her sex life, the defense was attempting to "slut-shame" Rose's accuser, the attorney said.
Both sides agree that Rose and the woman were in some kind of relationship for about 20 months prior to the alleged assault. Baute said Rose had broken up with the woman by text in July 2013, leaving her bitter and confused.
As the defense tells it, the woman sent Rose a text out of the blue on the morning of Aug. 26, 2013, indicating she was "horny."
Rose "took the bait" and invited the woman to party with him in Beverly Hills that night, Baute said, suggesting that the accuser was secretly laying grounds for a rape lawsuit that wouldn't be filed for two years.
The woman and a friend were invited to have a drink with Rose in Beverly Hills that night, the attorneys agree. But where defense witnesses testified that the plaintiff appeared relatively sober and initiated sex with all three defendants at the gathering that night, the accuser told the jury that no sex ever took place at the party.
She said after a couple shots of tequila, she began to feel unusually intoxicated, and a cab was called to take her and her friend to their respective homes.
The alleged assault occurred hours after she returned to her apartment, following what the defense claims were dozens of 2 a.m. text messages and phone calls to the defendants allegedly insisting they drive over to see her.
The accuser was "the shot caller," Baute said, telling the jury that the woman brought the defendants into her apartment and then told them to come to her bedroom "one at a time."
He said the lawsuit filed in 2015 was an attempt to "transfer wealth" from Rose and get back at him for ending their relationship. He asked the jury to reject the woman's claims for liability and damages.
McCoy countered that the woman had no memory of the texts and phone calls and had not invited the three to her home. Instead, the defendants "trespassed" and "raped her while she was passed out," the accuser's attorney said.