Former University of Maine student Clay Conaway of Georgetown, Delaware, was sentenced last month to five years in prison, with an additional year of home confinement and two years of probation, after his September conviction of a June 2018 fourth-degree rape by the Sussex County, Delaware Superior Court.
Conaway was charged last year with six separate cases of rape committed between September 2013 when he was still in high school and July 2018. After the first accusation of rape against him was made public, five other women reported to law enforcement that they had also been raped by Conaway in the Sussex County area.
The Superior Court’s November sentencing trial involved the first count for which he had been indicted — a rape in Georgetown, Delaware — and was concluded after 10 days and a further three hours of jury deliberation. Although Delaware law allows for a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for the crime of fourth-degree rape, it does not mandate that defendants be awarded any length of prison time. The judge in this instance chose to grant a punishment between the Delaware prosecution’s request of eight years in prison and the sentencing guidelines that called for a range of zero to 30 months in prison.
While at UMaine, Conaway pitched for the Black Bears’ baseball team. After two years of academic enrollment at UMaine, he chose to transfer to the University of Delaware, hoping for increased involvement with the University of Delaware’s baseball program.
In November of 2018, UMaine administration released a press statement concerning both Conaway’s conduct during his enrollment as a student at UMaine and the reasons for his transfer. It read: “Clay Conaway was enrolled at the University of Maine from fall 2014 to spring 2016, and a member of the UMaine baseball team for two seasons. He left UMaine for reasons related to his performance on the team. The University of Maine is not aware of any reports by a UMaine student naming Clay Conaway as a suspect of a sexual assault. The University of Maine received four names of alleged sexual assault victims of Clay Conaway from the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, and none of them are, or have ever been, University of Maine students. If police or reporters are aware of alleged victims who are or were UMaine students, the university would appreciate their names being shared so we can reach out and offer support services.”
Upon concluding an internal investigation into another accusation of rape made by a woman against Conaway, the University of Delaware determined that he had likely assaulted the woman in question and consequently expelled him from their university. This alleged rape was reported to law enforcement but was not, at the time of his first trial, among the counts for which he had been indicted.
Since being convicted on the state’s first count of rape, Conaway has reappeared in the Sussex County Superior Court for the second of his trials.
Sean O’Mara, an attorney and legal service provider for UMaine students, explained that although he is unfamiliar with Conaway or the sexual assault cases in question, it is essential for students, whether alleged perpetrators or victims, to seek professional legal counsel in such circumstances.
“I have provided legal advice and/or representation to victims of assault as well as those accused through my role as the Student Legal Services attorney here at UMaine,” O’Mara said. “I think these cases benefit greatly from having professional representation early so that the rights of those involved are protected.”
Those with questions about the university’s Code of Conduct or its policies concerning sexual assault are advised to either contact the Title IX office at 207-581-1406 or visit its website at umaine.edu/titleix. In the case of an emergency, dial 911 or contact the University of Maine Police Department at 207-581-4040.