In opening statements Thursday in Katerian LeGrone's sex assault trial, the state painted a picture of a then-Husker football player who thought he could do whatever he wanted and a young college student too frightened to do anything to stop him.
The defense portrayed his accuser as a woman seeking revenge on an ex-boyfriend, a former teammate of LeGrone's, with a plot to turn a consensual encounter into a financial payday with a lawsuit against the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Before the trial is over, jurors are expected to hear from the woman and Andre Hunt, who will be called to testify against LeGrone as part of a plea deal. He currently faces a first-degree sexual assault charge, too, involving the same woman but is expected to plead to a misdemeanor in exchange.
Both LeGrone and Hunt were suspended from the football team and UNL in response to the allegations, reported to police on Aug. 26, 2019.
The woman says she told Hunt in a text before she went to his and LeGrone's apartment that she didn't want to have sex. Then, during an encounter with Hunt in his bedroom, LeGrone came in the room and she felt them switch places, according to prosecutors.
"She froze. She was scared what would happen if she resisted. If she said no, would they hurt her or do something?" Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Chris Reid told jurors Thursday afternoon.
He said during the trial jurors will hear from another young woman who says LeGrone did the same thing to her a year earlier while she was having sex with another football player.
"This case is about opportunity and vulnerability," Reid said. "Mr. LeGrone thought he could do whatever he wanted and get away with it."
He is alleging the then-19-year-old woman was mentally or physically incapable of resisting.
LeGrone's attorney, Mallory Hughes, told the jury that in Nebraska the law requires somebody to do or say something if they don't want to have sex unless they can't because they're intoxicated or asleep or have been drugged, for instance. She wasn't.
"This law is important for all of us. Men, women. Regardless of your sexuality. Because what this law says is you're all equal. You're all capable," Hughes said.
She said LeGrone's accuser saw him come in the room while she and Hunt were having sex and didn't say "What's going on here? Hold on a minute. Stop.
"She has an obligation and a responsibility to do or say something to make the fact that she doesn't want to do this reasonably known to the person that's doing it. She has that responsibility and she didn't do that," Hughes said.
Testimony is set to begin Friday morning.