Bouwman tells jury his side of the story

ON THE STAND: David Bouwman took the stand on Thursday to explain his version of the events that occurred during a February 2010 ice fishing trip that resulted in his charges of criminal sexual conduct. Like the complainant, Bouwman claims he blacked out for a large portion of the night. (Pioneer photo/Whitney Gronski-Buffa)

LEELANAU COUNTY — Between the accounts offered by David Bouwman and the Big Rapids man who lodged a sexual assault complaint against him, it seems the truth of what really happened in the early morning hours of Feb. 11, 2010, has been completely lost.

On Thursday, the complainant in the case against Bouwman, a Big Rapids man charged with one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct against an incapacitated victim, completed his testimony.

When asked by defense attorney Jason Elmore if there was a possibility that he initiated any sexual contact with Bouwman that night, the man said he would “absolutely not” do that, regardless of how intoxicated he might have been, because he is not gay, he said.

In his testimony, the complainant said he left Bouwman’s house after waking to discover Bouwman performing a sex act on him. He pulled up his pants and put on a shirt, both of which were covered in vomit, and exited Bouwman’s Lake Leelanau cabin. Bouwman offered to drive the man home, but backed his Pontiac Aztec into a snow bank at the end of the driveway. When Bouwman got out of the car to get a shovel, the complainant jumped into the driver’s seat, freed the vehicle and drove away, eventually arriving in Mesick.

Between Lake Leelenau and Mesick, the complainant said he stopped once at a gas station to use a restroom. Elmore asked the man if he had washed his hands after touching his vomit-covered clothing and before he urinated. The man said he did not.

Although police collected evidence at Bouwman’s cabin and the complainant completed a rape kit exam, the source of the vomit remains unknown as it was not tested for DNA. Neither man testified to remembering whether they had vomited sometime in the night.

Bouwman, who also testified on Thursday, said the heavy drinking done by himself and the complainant wiped out his memory after a certain point on Feb. 10, 2010. His last memories of the night are of mixing margaritas at the cabin – four drinks for each of them, each with about four shots of tequila – and telling the complainant that he is not gay.

“We were sitting at the table and he said, ‘Just admit it – you’re gay,’” Bouwman said. “At this point, I was slurring and I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ And he said, ‘I love you and Kathy. I’ll love you no matter what, but I know you’re gay.’”

The complainant testified to having no recollection of this round of drinking and conversation, which occurred after the men returned to the cabin from their second bar trip of the night.

Shortly after that, Bouwman said he remembered the complainant saying he wanted to go to bed. After that, his memory goes blank until about 4:30 a.m. on Feb. 11, 2010, when the complainant shouting in the living room woke him. He went out to check on him, and the man started to accuse Bouwman of molesting him.

“He got in my face and said, ‘I’m going to kill you,’ and I said, ‘If I did that, then kill me, because I don’t remember it,’” Bouwman said. “I was scared because I’ve never seen anyone act like that in my life.”

When they attempted to leave the cabin and Bouwman backed into the snow bank, he told the court it was because, “I was so drunk, I shouldn’t have been on the road.”

His account of the driveway scene did not include the complainant shouting a threat about Bouwman “getting out his checkbook,” a detail Bouwman said he didn’t mention because he wasn’t specifically asked.

Kathy Bouwman, David Bouwman’s wife and vice president of the Big Rapids Public Schools Board of Education, also testified on Thursday, noting that the complainant threatened her for money when he called her while driving to Mesick.

The man began by telling her David Bouwman had molested him and he had retaliated by “kicking the s— out of him,” she said. At that point, the complainant testified that Kathy Bouwman told him not to tell anyone about the incident, but she said that isn’t true.

“I said, ‘My God (name omitted), you cannot tell these lies about my husband,’” Kathy Bouwman said. “Then he said, ‘Well, you’d better get your checkbook out and think of a number big enough to keep me quiet.’”

Thursday’s proceedings also featured testimony from Steve Calvert, a forensic scientist. Calvert was hired by the defense to independently test swabs and smears taken during the complainant’s rape kit. He said he was unable to collect DNA evidence from the swabs and questioned the reports issued by the Michigan State Police, which processed the saliva DNA evidence first. However, Calvert said it’s possible the majority of the DNA evidence could have been collected during those police exams, giving him a false negative during his own exam.

On Wednesday, Julie Howenstein, from Speckin Forensic Laboratories, testified to the DNA evidence collected during the complainant’s rape kit exam, saying the recovered saliva evidence said to be Bouwman’s could match about one-in-1 quadrillion other people.

Phil Currie, a Big Rapids car salesman and auctioneer, appeared as a character witness on David Bouwman’s behalf, saying Bouwman is a “very honest man and very giving to the community. I’ve never heard anything bad about him.”

Big Rapids resident Robert McInnes, a second character witness who would have testified against the complainant, was not allowed to present testimony to the jury.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. today at Leelanau County’s 13th Circuit Court, located at 8527 E. Government Center Drive in Suttons Bay. The jury will be sent to reach a verdict afterward, and their verdict will be published the same day.

avatar

Posted by Whitney Gronski-Buffa

Leave a Reply