LOS ANGELES (AP) – As his civil trial over gang rape allegations began in Los Angeles, Derrick Rose was halfway across the country making his debut with the New York Knicks.
He did address the $21 million lawsuit before the exhibition opener in Houston, saying he welcomed the chance to clear his name.
“I wanted to take it to court because I didn’t want to settle,” Rose said Tuesday, which was also his 28th birthday. “I don’t feel like I did anything wrong. If I go up there and just tell my side of the story, I think I’ll be alright.”
Rose planned to leave after the game to attend the trial in Los Angeles, where jury selection began earlier Tuesday, though no jurors have been seated. He’s expected to be in court by Thursday.
A lawyer for the ex-girlfriend who says Rose and two friends gang raped her while she was incapacitated said that by talking to reporters Rose had violated the gag order his own lawyer had sought to silence the parties outside the courtroom.
“It’s unfair to the plaintiff,” attorney Waukeen McCoy complained.
A federal judge said he wouldn’t make any decision without knowing what was said and hearing from Rose’s lawyer.
Jury selection resumes Wednesday. A pool of 50 candidates was asked what they know about the case, what basketball team they root for and whether they can set aside their own sexual moral beliefs and biases.
The two other men accused in the lawsuit, Randall Hampton and Ryan Allen, and the plaintiff sat through jury selection on opposite sides of the courtroom.
U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald gave prospective jurors an outline of the case, warning that they would hear testimony involving sex acts, vulgarity and profanity.
“Sex is essentially at the heart of what has been alleged and denied,” Fitzgerald said.
The trial threatens to expose details of Rose’s sex life, including text messages discussing his desire to have group sex.
The woman has said she rebuffed those offers and never consented to sex with the trio. She also has said she was drugged, though Rose’s lawyers said there’s no evidence of any drugs.
The woman, who dated Rose on and off for two years, told police he and two friends got into her apartment and had sex with her while she was intoxicated in August 2013. She reported the incident to the authorities two years later. Los Angeles police are still investigating but no criminal charges have been filed.
Rose, Hampton and Allen denied the allegations and said the sex was consensual.
Rose’s attorneys said the woman is trying to extort millions from the former MVP.
She was identified in court for the first time Tuesday and introduced to jurors by name. The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they are victims of sexual assault.
The woman had wanted to remain anonymous in court because she said she was harassed online after her name was leaked and she didn’t want her conservative parents to learn about the incident. She said they don’t know anything about it or her relationship with Rose.
Fitzgerald allowed her to remain anonymous until trial. If he kept her identity from the jury, he said it might appear he was protecting her and jurors might assume he believed her, which could hurt the defense.