Former Temple football player preparing to challenge rape charge in court

Posted: September 30, 2013

HE, THE son of a preacher, was a student and football player at Temple University.

She, a Temple business major, entered beauty pageants in her spare time.

There's no disputing that they had sex in his dorm room on May 26 of last year. But whether it was consensual is a question that will soon be put to the court.

The woman, 22, told police she was raped by the athlete after he invited her to his dorm to watch TV. (The Daily News does not print the names of alleged victims of sexual assaults.)

Praise Martin-Oguike, the player, who has since been kicked out of Temple and criminally charged, contends the sex was consensual.

Martin-Oguike, 19, who now attends a New Jersey community college, will stand trial next month.

His attorney, James A. Funt, plans to use the victim's own words, many in text messages, to prove his client's innocence.

But first, he must try to convince Common Pleas Judge Dennis Cohen that the woman's texts and statements about her sexual activities do not violate the state's Rape Shield Statute, which typically bars the introduction of any evidence that shows a victim's past sexual conduct or reputation for promiscuity.

During a motion hearing before Cohen on Thursday, Funt argued that the woman's texts were relevant because they expose a motive for lying about being raped and how she was injured.

Prosecutor Ashley Lynam conceded that the texts between the woman and Martin-Oguike were relevant, but opposed the introduction of any other messages as evidence, citing the shield law.

Cohen is expected to rule on Funt's request the day of the trial.

During Thursday's hearing, Funt asked to be allowed to introduce evidence that he said would show the relationship between the player and his accuser.

Additionally, Funt argued that he should be allowed to introduce evidence that he said would prove the woman fabricated the rape charge because she was concerned about being perceived as a football "groupie" on Temple's campus.

In his motion filing, Funt wrote that the woman had dated other football players before Martin-Oguike, and that he had rejected a relationship other than a sexual one with the woman, which angered her.

Funt argued to be allowed to introduce communications the woman had, which he said would demonstrate that she lied to police and medical personnel when she reported the alleged rape.

The attorney cited medical documentation in which the woman indicated that her last sexual encounter before the alleged assault was in April, a month before.

In arguing that this was a material falsehood, Funt read to the court a text exchange between the woman and a friend in which she described having sex with another man on May 10.

Funt contended that the text revealed a "demonstrable lie," which he said was relevant as an alternate explanation of the injuries the woman reported she suffered during the alleged rape.

Martin-Oguike's trial is set to begin Oct. 7.

On Twitter: @MensahDean

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