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Opening testimony takes place in the highly publicized rape trial of William Kennedy Smith, a nephew of President John F. Kennedy and son of Jean Kennedy Smith, the president’s sister and a former ambassador to Ireland. Smith, then a 30-year-old medical student at Georgetown University, was accused of sexually assaulting a 29-year-old Florida woman in the early hours of March 30, 1991, at the Kennedy family’s Palm Beach compound.
On the night of March 29, Smith went out in Palm Beach with his uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy, and cousin, Patrick Kennedy. They ended up at a night spot called Au Bar, where Smith met the accuser, who later accompanied him back to the Kennedy estate. Smith and the woman went for a walk on the beach, during which time Smith allegedly tackled and raped her. Taking the stand in his own defense in court, Smith testified he had sex with the woman but that it was consensual. At the trial, Judge Mary E. Lupo barred prosecutors from presenting testimony from three other women who claimed Smith had assaulted them.
As a member of one of America’s most famous families, Smith became the subject of intense public scrutiny and his trial turned into a media circus. Millions of viewers watched the nationally televised event and reporters from around the globe converged on the West Palm Beach courthouse. On December 11, after deliberating for 77 minutes, the six-member jury acquitted Smith on all charges. (In an interesting side note, Smith’s lead defense attorney, Roy Black, later married Lisa Haller, one of the jurors, in 1995.)
During the live television coverage of the trial, the accuser’s identity was electronically obscured with a large dot to protect her privacy. However, following the trial, the woman, Patricia Bowman, chose to identify herself publicly.
William Kennedy Smith became a doctor after the trial, specializing in working with victims of land mines, and remained largely out of the national spotlight. In 2004, a Chicago woman who was Smith’s assistant at the nonprofit Center for International Rehabilitation filed a lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault. A judge subsequently dismissed the suit.
Kennedy nephew accused of raping his assistant
William Kennedy Smith, who more than a decade ago was acquitted of sexual assault charges in a trial in West Palm Beach that became a tabloid frenzy, is facing fresh controversy following allegations from a former personal assistant that he raped her in 1999 in his apartment in Chicago.
William Kennedy Smith, who more than a decade ago was acquitted of sexual assault charges in a trial in West Palm Beach that became a tabloid frenzy, is facing fresh controversy following allegations from a former personal assistant that he raped her in 1999 in his apartment in Chicago.
Mr Kennedy Smith, 43, a doctor who is the nephew of Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and a son of a former United States Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith, yesterday issued a strong denial of the new charges calling them, "outrageous, untrue and without merit".
In a statement issued by the Centre for International Rehabilitation, which Dr Kennedy Smith heads, he added that, "unfortunately, my family and my personal history have made me unusually vulnerable to these kinds of allegations". He said his accuser had demanded $3m (£1.7m) in compensation.
The woman, Audra Soulias, filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago. It states that she is looking for damages from Mr Kennedy Smith of $50,000 and claims that he forced her to have sex with him after an evening of drinking five years ago.
Ms Soulias, 28, told a local television station in Chicago: "He dragged me into his house, dragged me upstairs in his bedroom where he raped me." She worked for Dr Kennedy Smith at the centre, which is committed to outlawing land mines, from October 1997 until June 1999. She alleges that the assault occurred in January 1999 after her birthday party.
The suit describes Dr Kennedy Smith crashing the party for Ms Soulias. At the party, he "encouraged the plaintiff and others to consume excessive amounts of alcohol, which he purchased", it claims. The West Palm Beach trial of Dr Kennedy Smith gripped the nation's tabloid newspapers for several weeks and has often been described as the first in an era of trials and crime stories to attract almost 24-hour media and television attention, surpassed soon afterwards by the OJ Simpson murder case.
On that occasion, Dr Kennedy Smith was accused of luring a young woman he had met at a nightclub to the Kennedy clan estate in West Palm Beach and then forcing her to have sex with him on its grounds. He claimed the sex was consensual and, after deliberating for only an hour, the jury in the case acquitted him. The mansion and estate has since been sold by the family.
A lawyer for Ms Soulias said yesterday that she had not come forward earlier with her suit because she was afraid of being in the public eye. He also admitted that the couple had had a longer sexual relationship after the alleged rape.
Sen. Kennedy Takes Stand at Rape Trial
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told a jury Friday how he had taken his son and nephew for a late-night drink March 30 to overcome a melancholy mood, but denied that he heard screams or saw any evidence that his nephew had raped a woman later on the lawn of the family’s oceanfront estate.
In the fifth day of the William Kennedy Smith trial, the senator’s son Patrick, 24, also took the stand to say that he had seen a woman at the family estate later that night with his cousin. Patrick Kennedy also said that he heard no struggle but was told later by Smith that his “strange friend” was acting in a “bizarre” manner and threatening to call the police.
The testimony provided the first counterpoint from the Kennedy family at the trial to the dramatic account related by Smith’s accuser. It neither contradicted nor confirmed crucial parts of her version of the events, but provided extensive detail about the nightclub outing that led to the episode and the rape charges.
In her appearance before the court earlier this week, the 31-year-old Jupiter, Fla., woman described meeting the three Kennedy men at the Au Bar club and later driving Smith home. She testified that Smith tried to grab her as she was going to leave, then chased her across the lawn, tackled her and raped her.
In 45 minutes of testimony that largely followed his earlier sworn statements, the senator choked up and his nephew wept openly as the topic swung to Smith’s late father, Stephen Smith.
“I wish I’d gone for a long walk on the beach instead” to relieve the gloom, the 59-year-old Massachusetts Democrat told the panel at another point. “But I went to Au Bar,” he said.
Kennedy said he had proposed the visit to shake the mood that had seized him after a post-dinner discussion of his late brother-in-law. Smith, who was William Kennedy Smith’s father, had been “another brother,” and at his death in August, 1990, “something left all of us.”
The eight-month-old rape allegation and the events surrounding it have made the senator the butt of jokes, caused a drop in his standing in the polls and, some say, periled his political future. In his stammering and inconsistent explanations of the evening in earlier comments, he has reminded some of the 1969 Chappaquiddick incident, where he failed for nearly half a day to report an auto accident that was fatal to his young female passenger.
But Friday he was concise, coherent, in command. His smooth, almost monotone responses to prosecutor Moira K. Lasch’s questions were slowed only at the mention of Stephen Smith and, at another point, a reference to the assassination of his brother, Robert F. Kennedy.
Sen. Kennedy related how he had gone to the nightclub about midnight and had been introduced to Smith’s accuser. But later, he and Patrick had come home without Smith, and Kennedy was in bed by 2:30 a.m., he said.
The senator said that his bedroom faced the lawn and that the windows were open on the warm, clear evening. But he said again that he heard nothing of a struggle.
Patrick Kennedy said he had later seen Smith chatting with a person seated in a car in the mansion’s parking lot. Only two minutes later, he said, a woman appeared in a doorway of the house and then disappeared with Smith into the study.
He said Smith came to bed later, telling him that the woman had told “bizarre” stories, demanded his driver’s license, called him “Michael” and summoned her friends to the house. Two days later, when Patrick Kennedy learned of the rape investigation, Smith told him, “It sounds like a set-up.”
Patrick Kennedy said he had not told anyone on Saturday, March 30, of the previous night’s events. “In retrospect perhaps I should have told someone. But I didn’t know then what I know now,” he said.
The emotional high point of Sen. Kennedy’s testimony came as he described the after-dinner discussion on one of the estate’s patios about Stephen Smith. With the conversation, a “whole range of memories came in an overwhelming wave of emotion,” he said.
When lead defense attorney Roy E. Black asked Kennedy to explain again the discussion of the death of Smith, Kennedy stopped, looked down and hesitated for long seconds. He seemed unable to go on.
“I described it earlier,” Kennedy finally said, his voice strained and husky.
At the defense table 15 feet from him, William Kennedy Smith brushed the corner of his eyes and wiped his nose. The defendant, who has been largely passive during the trial, took several deep breaths and swallowed hard.
“This was a very special weekend for us,” Sen. Kennedy explained, because it was the first time that he had been with Stephen Smith’s family since the death of his sister Jean’s husband seven months earlier. “We’re a very close family,” Sen. Kennedy said, as his nephew watched him intently.
Black asked Kennedy to explain his close tie to William Barry, the family friend and former security chief for Robert F. Kennedy who also was at the residence with his family that evening. “Is he not the man who knocked the gun out of Sirhan Sirhan’s hand?” asked Black, referring to the assassination of R.F.K. in 1968.
The sympathy generated by the senator’s testimony appeared to affect even the prosecutor. Lasch, who earlier in the trial denounced the Kennedy “machine” and spoke of a Chappaquiddick-style “cover-up,” seemed awed and respectful.
Two hours after the senator took the stand, his son delivered more than half an hour of testimony in a soft, slow voice.
Some legal observers wondered whether the state had blundered in calling Sen. Kennedy.
“The big question is, why did Sen. Kennedy testify?” asked Frank Kessler, a Palm Beach County defense attorney and former prosecutor. “Maybe Ms. Lasch had a grand scheme there I don’t see it.”
Tabloid Interview Nets $40,000
In a blistering cross-examination, defense counsel Roy Black knocked gaping holes in Mercer's testimony. He forced a retreat from her earlier assertion to police that Bowman had been raped twice, and that on one of these occasions Smith's uncle, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, had watched. Black also got Mercer to admit that she had failed to inform the authorities of details she subsequently revealed for the tabloid TV program "A Current Affair."
Gasps filled the courtroom when Mercer confessed that she had been paid $40,000 for her story. By implication, Black suggested that Mercer's tale had been heavily embellished for monetary gain. It was a stigma that the witness never fully shrugged off. Black drove home his advantage by playing Mercer a taped account she had made earlier for the police that contained several statements that disagreed with the version she had provided the court.
In a surprise move, prosecutor Lasch produced the accuser early in the trial. To protect her identity, TV cameras obscured Bowman's face with a blue dot. (Following the trial Bowman elected to abandon her anonymity for a TV interview.) Referring to the defendant first as "Mr. Smith," and later as "that man," Bowman described the alleged assault, saying, "I thought he was going to kill me."
When Black chided Bowman for several lapses of memory, she insisted, "The only thing I can remember about that week is Mr. Smith raped me."
Black wasn't impressed. "I know you've been prepared to say that."
Bowman snapped back. "I have not been prepared to say anything."
Throughout his cross-examination Black walked a fine line how best to undermine the accuser's credibility without wishing to appear bullying or insensitive. On those occasions when his questioning provoked a tearful response, Black immediately backed off and suggested a recess. Under his deft probing, however, Bowman did acknowledge a history of problems with men, resulting, she said, from "having one-night stands."
On rebuttal, Lasch asked Bowman whether she had any ulterior motives for bringing the charge. Bowman replied, "What he did to me was wrong. I have a child and it's not right and I don't want to live the rest of my life in fear of that man. And I don't want to be responsible for him doing it to someone else."
This final comment brought Black to his feet, objecting. Judge Lupo ordered the remark stricken from the record, calling it "inappropriate."
Curiously, the prosecution called Smith's uncle, Senator Edward Kennedy, as its witness. If, as some observers believed, Lasch was attempting to visit some of the senator's perceived foibles upon his nephew, then she sorely miscalculated. For some 40 minutes Senator Kennedy managed to re-create Camelot in a Palm Beach courthouse as he evoked memories of the family's numerous tragedies. Nothing he said was remotely helpful to Lasch's case. Not for the first time the prosecution's strategy showed signs of being ill-conceived and poorly executed.
Much of the defense was built around forensic testimony. Charles M. Sieger, an architect, said that, given the house's construction, had Bowman screamed as she claimed, the sounds would have been clearly audible indoors, yet no resident admitted to hearing anything.
Rather less successful was Professor Jay Siegel's testimony. He stated that sand found in Bowman's underwear most likely came from the beach, which tallied with Smith's version of events, and not the lawn, where Bowman claimed she had been raped. Lasch bored in. "Wouldn't you agree that a 6-foot-2, 200-pound man running up a beach is going to churn up some sand?" Siegel agreed. Lasch went on: "And if the defendant was wet … some of that [sand] could stick to his body, couldn't it?" Besides having to concede this possibility, Siegel also was forced to admit that the lawn itself actually contained a significant amount of sand, thus rendering his testimony virtually useless.
W.K. Smith rape trial beginning TV goes all out on Palm Beach proceedings.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- With Court TV offering gavel-to-gavel coverage, Cable News Network vowing nearly the same and all three television networks here for the long haul, the William Kennedy Smith rape trial, which was scheduled to begin today, is almost assured of being the most-watched in U.S. history.
But most residents of Palm Beach, where the incident in question occurred, seem determined to ignore the trial, which has turned their island into a media encampment. To them it means unwelcome visitors, unwanted traffic jams and an unseemly spotlight on their posh retreat.
"People will be delighted when it's over with," said Paul Romanoff Ilyinsky, a member of the Town Council who first came to Palm Beach in 1930.
"We hope he gets a fair trial, and goodbye and everybody leaves."
Matters are not so simple for the two principals in the case: the 30-year-old woman from nearby Jupiter, Fla., who says Smith raped her on Easter weekend and Smith, 31, who denies the charge.
"She can't even get out of her driveway. Reporters are there all the time," said a person in regular touch with the woman, who is apparently staying with her parents in Jupiter. "She worries how it will affect her daughter, who is only 2 years old."
Smith, meanwhile, returned to Palm Beach over the weekend after being away with his family for Thanksgiving, said Barbara Gamarekian, a publicist working for him.
During the past three weeks of jury selection, she added, he would spend the day in court, return to the Kennedy compound and "take a run, swim or just relax physically." He was in bed every night by 10:30, she recalled, and managed to "slip out for a movie" on one occasion.
Today's opening session of the trial could be the most dramatic. That is partly because final choices will be made for six jurors and three alternates from the pool of 37 potential jurors. In addition, Judge Mary Lupo was expected today to decide whether to admit statements from three other women who say Smith raped or attacked them in recent years, allegations that could seriously compromise his defense.
Once that is done, lawyers for the defense and prosecution were to make opening statements.
Another high point in the trial -- which is scheduled to last three weeks but may well go longer -- will be testimony by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who woke his son Patrick and Smith to go drinking the night of the incident. Patrick, a Rhode Island legislator, will also testify, as will other Kennedy family members who were staying at the compound that night.
Other witnesses will include people who have become household names after months of incessant news attention -- from Anne Mercer and her boyfriend, Chuck Desiderio, who were summoned to the compound by the woman that night, to Denny Abbott, a rape crisis counselor who advised the woman to go to the police.
The brightest spotlights, however, will shine during appearances by the woman and Smith, who does not have to testify but is expected to.
The local NBC affiliate will have blow-by-blow commentary from F. Lee Bailey, CNN has commissioned two of Washington's most prominent trial lawyers, and Court TV will tap more than a dozen legal luminaries.
KENNEDY SMITH TRIAL: TWO LIVES COLLIDE
It was Jean Kennedy Smith's turn to have the house in Palm Beach.
The winter had been a time of mourning. Her husband, Stephen, died of cancer in August 1990.
But it was Easter now, a time of renewal. The children would be down.
There was Stephen Jr., a lawyer teaching a course at Harvard Kym, a high school senior Amanda, a Harvard graduate student and Willie, 30, a medical student at Georgetown. Willie would take one quick holiday with his family before the final crush of medical board exams and, if all went well, the start of his residency as a doctor in New Mexico.
In a family well acquainted with violent and untimely death, Stephen Smith's slow, painful one was wrenching in its own way. His death created a leadership vacuum in the clan. Although an in-law, Smith had succeeded family patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy in managing the family's businesses, its political successes and its crises, including the 1969 Chappaquiddick incident in which Mary Jo Kopechne drowned in Sen. Edward Kennedy's car after it plunged off a bridge.
For Easter, Jean Smith invited her brother, the senator, and his son, Patrick, a Rhode Island state legislator.
Willie Smith arrived on Thursday evening, March 28. The senator and Patrick Kennedy had arrived the day before, kicking off the festivities by leading the other male houseguests to a nightspot called Au Bar.
Patrick Kennedy invited a woman home that night. But when it came time for her to leave, about 4 a.m., she apparently was too drunk to drive. Patrick had caretaker Dennis Spear take her home, packing his bicycle in the trunk so he could ride the 10 miles back to the estate.
On Good Friday, there were more than 20 for lunch by the pool. Daiquiris, a Kennedy lunchtime tradition, preceded lobster salad, shrimp salad, tossed green salad and a cold noodle dish prepared by 80-year-old Nellie McGrail, who began service of the family under matriarch Rose Kennedy. And there was wine -- a case of it consumed throughout the afternoon.
That evening the young Kennedys played charades before heading to a place called Lulu's for dancing and champagne. They made it an early evening.
But about midnight, as Patrick and Willie settled into twin beds in the room they shared, the senator roused them for a nightcap.
-- A 29-year-old Jupiter woman swept her hair back in a twist and put on a chic, black Ann Taylor dress, black nylons and heels. A single mother with a daughter almost 2, she was eager for a night on the town with friends.
Her girlfriends had planned a casual evening of television and take-out dinner, but when the woman showed up at Anne Mercer's house all dressed up, Mercer relented. She poured them a glass of red wine, changed her jeans and made reservations at the Palm Beach restaurant her boyfriend's father owned.
They dropped by another friend's home on the way. Sipping another glass of wine, they "sat around and discussed baby stuff, you know, talked about new babies . and how wonderful her little boy was and how great my girl is," the woman said later.
After dinner, Mercer's boyfriend, Chuck Desiderio, suggested Au Bar. "We must go down there 'cause that's the hopping place," he said.
"It had been since December since I'd been out, and I was having a nice time," the woman later said. "It was nice to get away from my Mommy role."
At Au Bar, she bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate.
-- Teddy Kennedy ordered a Chivas Regal scotch and soda and he and Patrick took a table near the dance floor. Smith wandered off, literally bumping into the Jupiter woman as she looked for the ladies' room. Over the music, he introduced himself as William. He asked her to dance. She accepted.
He introduced her to his uncle and cousin, but it took a few minutes for her to realize who they were.
"I said, 'You must think I'm pretty much of a ditz for not recognizing your uncle as Ted Kennedy,"' she said later, "and (William) said that, no, he found that refreshing."
Meanwhile, Teddy Kennedy and Mercer became involved in what one bystander described as a "little kabob." The senator thought Mercer had slighted his son. Mercer thought the Kennedys were commandeering her table.
Teddy Kennedy stormed out, with Patrick following. When Smith looked around for them, they were gone. He asked the woman for a ride home. She agreed.
She wanted to trust William. He was the first man she had met since having her daughter, an experience that left her an unmarried mother -- and leery of men. William listened to her talk about her daughter. He passed her tests, showing her his driver's license when she asked, understanding the medical terms she dropped to see if he really was a medical student.
"I feel safe around medical people . " she said later. "They saved my daughter's life."
After the quick ride to the mansion, she pulled her black Mazda convertible into the parking lot at the house and they kissed goodnight. Then Willie asked her if she wanted to go inside, maybe take a walk on the beach.
They walked through the house, past the senator and Patrick talking in the kitchen, and out the back door toward the ocean.
"We were kicking around the sand like a Publix commercial," she said. "I'd met somebody who I thought could become a friend. You know, it was just nice, and we kissed a couple of times. . It seemed very innocent to me.
"And then he asked me if I wanted to go swimming."
She thought that an odd idea. The water was cold, it was dark and she couldn't swim.
"And he started to take his shirt off, and then he started to unzip his pants."
She turned her back, deciding it was time to leave.
"I've had a nice night with a nice guy," she remembered thinking as she climbed the beach stairs. "It would be nice if he called again, but, hey, let's be realistic, he's a Kennedy."
As she reached the last step, she felt a hand on her ankle pull her to the ground, she later told police. Without realizing what was happening, she jerked free and started running across the lawn, looking for the way out. But she was tackled again near the pool, she said.
"He was on top of me . pressing into my chest with his body and I couldn't move. . I remember feeling my dress go up around my hips and my waist," she told police.
"And I was yelling, 'No!' and to stop and he wouldn't. .. I couldn't figure out why, why he wasn't stopping and why nobody was helping me."
She said she squirmed from beneath him and ran toward the house. She was afraid to go inside, but she could hear him calling her name. In the kitchen, there was a small space between a water cooler and a pantry door. She crouched there.
"I couldn't move because I thought if I moved to get out, he would find me."
On the counter, she could see a portable phone.
"I know I was thinking that these are the Kennedys. These are political people and . maybe they owned the police."
She grabbed the phone and dialed Mercer's number.
-- When the cousins awoke on Saturday, Patrick asked Willie about the woman, "How was she? . Did you wear protection?"
Willie and Patrick did not talk again about the preceding night, or tell other family members.
"It all seemed sort of surreal," Patrick said. "And that didn't fit into the context of a new day that was bright and that we had had a tennis game scheduled for."
That afternoon, they met another young woman walking her dog on the beach. Smith asked her to see a movie that night and he asked for her phone number. Peggy Scheid declined both requests, so Smith gave her his phone number, insisting that she repeat it first so she would not forget.
-- For the Jupiter woman, the hours after she left the Kennedy estate were a blurred race of thoughts and motion. She could not sleep at Mercer's. She worried about her daughter, that the Kennedys would somehow harm her. She wanted to be alone at her home where she had a burglar alarm. She wanted her daughter there, but it was too early to go to her mother's to pick her up. She had to calm down, she thought, so she called the rape hotline for advice.
"She was crying and she said, 'I was raped,"' said Barbara Parks, a volunteer who took the call.
When Parks referred the woman to a counselor, the woman begged her, "No, don't hang up. Please don't hang up. . I trusted him."
The rape counselor convinced the woman she should go to police.
Barefoot, wearing shorts and a borrowed Madonna concert T-shirt, she pulled her knees to her chest as the Sheriff's Office detective coaxed her story from her.
The next step was a medical examination. The woman said she was tender in the ribs. When Dr. Rebecca Prostko suggested an X-ray, the woman "exhibited extremely regressed behavior," Prostko said. "She curled up in a ball on the table and said, 'I can't believe this happened to me."'
After the exam, the woman had to go to Palm Beach to tell detectives there what happened.
Her first statement to Detective Christine Rigolo was a jumble of run-on thoughts and memory gaps. She remembered the events of the night, hiding in the pantry, seeing a phone and calling Mercer to come pick her up.
But there was a troubling blank in her memory. After calling Mercer, the next thing she remembered was being in another room, possibly a study, with Smith denying that he had raped her.
Patrick Kennedy later said the woman left the estate during that time. Smith had walked the woman to her car. When he returned with Patrick to the house, the woman was there. "'Do you want to talk?"' Patrick heard his cousin ask as he showed her into the study.
There were other inconsistencies in the woman's statements. In her hysterical blabbering to Mercer, she said something about being raped twice, and that "he was watching." Later when police asked her, she did not remember saying these things.
In the course of four interviews with police, some pieces came together. She remembered taking things from the house, a notepad and photograph, and getting Desiderio to take an urn. No one would believe her otherwise, she said.
She remembered why she thought that too.
"No one will believe you," she recalled Smith telling her in the study. "He just sat there like he'd just got done watching a football game or something. He just very calmly said, 'No, I didn't rape you,' and I said, 'Yes, you did rape me,' and he said, 'Well, either way, no one will believe you."'
-- Jean Smith was to make a quick trip to an arts benefit in New York after Easter, then return for another two weeks in Palm Beach.
But only reporters went to the Kennedy compound after Easter.
On Monday, police issued a news release about a sexual battery at the Kennedy estate. It would be more than a month before any Kennedy would return to Palm Beach, and then it was Smith coming back to be booked on the charges and to declare them a "damnable lie." He was back again within the month to plead his innocence to a judge.
The woman during that time gave additional statements to the police. And as her story gradually came together, so did her resolve to prosecute.
"I did not want to be raped," she told police. "I told him no. I told him to stop. I tried to push him off of me and out of me and he wouldn't stop.
"I don't care if he thinks nobody's going to believe me. He raped me."
---- Staff Writer John Grogan contributed to this report.
William Kennedy Smith is charged with sexual battery and battery after a woman said she was raped at teh Kennedy estate on March 20. Here are some of the details surrounding the event:
1. Jupiter woman and Smith arrive at the parking lot of the compound about 3 or 3:30 a.m. They enter the house, then go to the beach.
2. Smith invites woman for swim, but she declines. When Smith begins to disrobe, she leaves.
3. Woman says that as she is walking up the stairs from the beach, her leg is grabbed from behind. She breaks free and runs toward the swimming pool.
4. Woman says Smith tackles and assaults her.
5. The woman runs into the house and hides near the pantry. She calls a friend, tells her she has been raped and asks the friend to pick her up.
The William Kennedy Smith trial:
-- OPENING DAY: 9 a.m., completion of jury selection followed by hearing on pretrial motions 1:30 p.m., opening statements.
-- DAILY SCHEDULE: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with 20-minute recesses in the morning and afternoon and an hour for lunch. Court will be in session on Saturday, Dec. 7, if not subsequent Saturdays.
-- WHERE: Courtroom 411, County Courthouse, 300 N. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach.
-- SEATS: Sixteen spectator seats available. Tickets, valid through the morning or afternoon sessions only, will be issued in Room 123 to the first 16 people in line 15 minutes before each court session. Spectators may leave during testimony, but may not return until the next break, unless that break is lunch. In that case, they must get another ticket for the afternoon session.
-- LOOKING ON: For those who just want to see Smith and his entourage, look for them arriving or leaving the courthouse. The best bet is to come around noon or 6 p.m., times when they are likely to talk to the media. Go to the area between the courthouse and parking garage, which is set up by the media for interviews.
Sketches of the principal figures in the rape case involving William Kennedy Smith.
Age 31. Charged with sexual battery and battery. Son of Jean Kennedy Smith and the late Stephen Smith. Nephew to John F. Kennedy and Sen. Edward Kennedy. Graduated Duke University with history degree, Georgetown University medical school.
Age 30. Raised in Ohio. Moved to Jupiter with mother and stepfather, retired millionaire industrialist. Worked at Disney World's accounting department, law office in Winter Park. Is single mother of 2-year-old daughter.
Age 59. Elected in 1962. Unsuccessfully sought Democratic presidential nomination in 1980. Questioned and cleared in investigation into obstruction of justice after the March incident at the estate.
Age 24. Rhode Island state representative since 1989. Son of the senator, cousin to Smith. Graduated with honors in May from Providence College.
Age 32. Friend of accuser and daughter of Leonard Mercer, former owner of Fort Lauderdale's Galt Ocean Mile Hotel and Ta-boo restaurant in Palm Beach. Sold story of night's events for $25,000 to television tabloid A Current Affair.
Age 34. Mercer's boyfriend. Former manager of Renato's restaurant in Palm Beach, and son of owner.
Age 44. Palm Beach County Circuit Court. Elected in 1984. Served in civil division until transferred to criminal division in January. Law degree in 1974 from Georgetown University. Served as domestic relations commissioner and prosecutor before being elected to county bench in 1978.
Age 40. Assistant state attorney. A prosecutor in Palm Beach County for 14 years, now serving as chief of felony division. Named Florida Prosecutor of the Year for gaining convictions against Robert Spearman and two men he hired to murder his wife, West Palm Beach Assistant City Manager Anita Spearman. Received her law degree from the University of Maryland.
Age 46. Defense attorney. Partner in Miami firm of Black & Furci. Defended Miami police officer William Lozano, winning a new trial on two manslaughter charges stemming from January 1989 killings that sparked civil disturbance in Miami. Successfully defended Miami Officer Luis Alvarez, acquitted in a similar killing that sparked racial riots in December 1982. Received his bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Miami.
Events of Easter weekend, compiled from witnesses' statements to police and attorneys:
-- 10 p.m.: The Jupiter woman, Anne Mercer and Mercer's boyfriend, Chuck Desiderio, dine at Renato's in Palm Beach.
-- 10:30 p.m.: William Kennedy Smith, Patrick Kennedy and friends go to Lulu's restaurant in Palm Beach.
-- 11:45 p.m.: Smith and Kennedy go home. (Smith's sister, friends and undercover officer Mariellen Norton put their departure as late as 1:15 a.m., possibly 2 a.m.)
-- About midnight: Woman, Mercer and Desiderio go to Au Bar in Palm Beach. Sen. Edward Kennedy rouses his son Patrick and nephew Smith for a drink.
-- 12:30 a.m.: Kennedys and Smith arrive at Au Bar.
-- 1:30 a.m.: Senator and Patrick Kennedy leave Au Bar after an argument with Mercer.
-- About 2:15 a.m.: Smith notices his uncle and cousin have left and gets woman to give him a ride.
-- 3-3:30 a.m. (estimated): Woman and Smith go through house to walk on beach. Smith invites her to swim, but she declines. Smith starts to disrobe and woman turns to leave. As she walks up stairs, woman's leg is grabbed from behind. She breaks free and runs, but says Smith tackles and rapes her.
-- 3:30-4 a.m. (estimated): Woman runs into house and hides by a pantry door. She calls Mercer, says she has been raped, asks Mercer to pick her up.
-- 4:20-4:25 a.m.: Patrick Kennedy walks guest Michele Cassone to her car, watches Smith say goodbye to someone, who then drives away. Patrick Kennedy and Smith walk back inside, find woman is back, Patrick says. Smith asks if she wants to talk, invites her into study, Patrick says.
-- 4-4:30 a.m. (estimated): Woman says Smith pulls her into study, denies raping her, says no one would believe her claim. She leaves house, too upset to drive, she says.
-- About 4:30 a.m.: Mercer and Desiderio arrive at Kennedy estate. Woman and Desiderio take photograph, legal pad, urn. The three leave shortly afterward.
-- 9 a.m.: Woman calls rape hotline.
-- 11 a.m.: Woman goes to Sheriff's Office. Smith and Patrick Kennedy eat breakfast, talk about previous night.
-- 2:32 p.m.: Woman undergoes rape exam at Humana Hospital.
-- 3:30 p.m.: Woman goes to Palm Beach Police Department, where police technician Peggy Irvine photographs a bruise on her leg and detective Christine Rigolo takes first taped statement.
-- 7 p.m.: Rigolo interviews Mercer and Desiderio.
-- 8:30 p.m.: Kennedys have dinner, followed by game of charades.
-- 9 a.m.: Sen. Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy, Smith, his mother Jean Smith and friends go to Mass.
-- 1:30 p.m.: Lunch at Kennedy estate.
-- Palm Beach police arrive, asking for Smith and the senator. Family friend William Barry says they are gone. Housekeeper Jean Saba later contradicts Barry, saying Smith and senator were at lunch.
-- 2:15 p.m.: Smith leaves for airport.
-- 2:30 p.m.: Police Sgt. Keith Robinson telephones senator. Housekeeper says he and Smith are gone to airport. The senator is still in town, though.
-- 6 p.m.: Barry tells Sen. Kennedy and Patrick Kennedy about the sexual assault allegation, Patrick says.
-- 8-8:30 a.m.: Sen. Kennedy flies back to Washington.
-- 10:30 a.m.: Police make first public statement about rape report.
-- Noon: Jean Smith and Patrick Kennedy leave Palm Beach. Sen. Kennedy says he first learns about rape allegation from family attorney.
PRINT PAGE The day a Kennedy was accused of rape at the family’s Palm Beach mansion
William Kennedy Smith surrendered to Palm Beach police Saturday on rape and battery charges, then called his accuser’s harrowing account “an outrageous lie” when he faced the media on a dusty path outside the county jail.
Accompanied by his mother and his lawyer, the 30-year-old medical student appeared calm and composed, dressed in a gray suit, pale blue shirt and necktie. He was alert, solicitous and composed. “I have read the police report about the events that took place on March 30. The version of events in that report are an outrageous lie, and they represent an attack on me, my family and the truth,” he said.
Smith, charged Thursday with one felony count of sexual battery and one count of misdemeanor battery, arrived in a rented Lincoln Town Car at the Palm Beach police station shortly before noon, several days earlier than expected.
He was fingerprinted, photographed and driven to the county jail, where he posted a $10,000 bond with a cashier’s check and was released. He departed from Palm Beach International Airport with his mother, Jean Kennedy Smith, a sister of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D- Mass., for Washington, D.C.
As a jostling crowd of reporters surrounded Smith on his release from jail Saturday, the medical student calmly said: “I am very much looking forward to a trial, where I can testify and where the truth can come out. I have no question that that will happen.”
Smith’s mother stayed by her son’s side whenever she could, entering the jail booking area to wait for him.
“I think it’s unbelievable that someone could personally attack his character, his reputation and his career. He has dedicated his entire life to helping others,” she said. “I don’t think that anyone who knows Willie would believe her story.”
Smith again refused to give his account of events surrounding his March 30 encounter with a 29-year-old woman at a Palm Beach nightclub and later at the Kennedy mansion. Nor has he spoken to police about it.
In an affidavit released when Smith was charged, police quoted the woman as saying he grabbed her roughly on the leg, bruising her, after she declined an ocean swim sometime after 3 a.m. She said she fled but Smith caught up and tackled her near the family pool. He pinned her down, raped her and said, “Stop it, bitch,” when she tried to push him away, the woman told police.
Saturday, Smith said only, “I did not commit an offense of any kind. I am confident that that will come out.”
Smith has neither confirmed nor denied having sex with the woman. An arraignment was scheduled for June 14 in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, but Smith need not be present at the hearing.
A person with no criminal record would face a sentence ranging from probation to 4 1/2 years in prison if convicted of sexual battery and assault. Smith has no criminal record in Florida or the New York and Washington areas, The New York Times reported Saturday, although his New York driver license was suspended four weeks ago for failing to pay a seven-month-old traffic fine from Washington, D.C. On April 9, Smith paid $100 for the ticket, failure to yield when turning right on a red light, the paper said.
‘SET UP’Published May 15, 1991
Patrick Kennedy called the woman in the Kennedy estate rape case a Fatal Attraction character and told investigators under oath that his cousin, William Kennedy Smith, said after the episode that he thought he was being “set up.”
Kennedy’s account came from 1,500 pages of witness statements and reports that police released Tuesday.
“In my view this was a person, like I said, sort of a Fatal Attraction you couldn’t get rid of and was saying all sorts of wild things and that is the way he had conveyed it to me,” said Kennedy, 24, a Rhode Island legislator and son of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.
In Fatal Attraction, an obsessive character played by Glenn Close refuses to end a torrid affair after her lover wants to break it off. In the film, there was no rape. Smith is charged with the rape of a 29-year-old Jupiter woman March 30 on the lawn of the Kennedy estate in Palm Beach.
Patrick Kennedy remembered Smith telling him before dawn that day, ‘God, I wish I had gone to bed earlier and this girl is, you know, really whacked out.’ “ Smith also told his cousin that he had sex with the woman and did not use a condom. The next day, Kennedy said, Smith told him, “This is really a setup, isn’t it?’ “
Patrick Kennedy, explaining why he did not talk to police before he left town, said the whole thing was “surreal.” When he found out that someone had taken an urn and a framed photograph out of the house that night, Kennedy said, “I thought, bingo, it is probably Willie’s whacked-out friend.”
The massive batch of documents released Tuesday also contained contradictory accounts. According to Anne Mercer, a friend of the alleged victim, the woman told Mercer “she’d been raped twice,” once on the beach and once inside the estate. “And then she said the first time that Sen. Kennedy was watching,” said Mercer, who picked up the woman at the compound that morning.
Mercer said the woman was hysterical. But the woman told police she was raped once. Asked about Mercer’s account, the alleged victim said, “I don’t know what happened after I called (Mercer).”
Mercer also told State Attorney David Bludworth that she saw no bruises on the woman, even when she changed into one of Mercer’s T-shirts afterward. “Did you see any . . . physical bruises on her or scratches or anything?” Bludworth asked. “No,” Mercer said.
Later that day, police noted the alleged victim had “indications of bruising” on her leg, shoulders and arms. The alleged victim told investigators about her childhood, saying her biological father had beaten her and emotionally abused her. She said she has been having counseling to deal with the abuse and with the premature birth of her baby. Her problems, she said, made her an unlikely candidate for casual sex with a near stranger. “I don’t trust men . . . ,” she said. “And I also can’t afford to get pregnant now. I can’t afford to get a sexual disease because I’m all my daughter has . . . I would not go out looking, as they say.” “I just went out to have a nice dinner with my friends. . . . It was nice to get away from my mommy role.”
In five separate statements to police and prosecutors, the Jupiter woman, often in tears, described the incident in detail. The woman said she had at least four or five drinks that night, after taking a sedative, Carisoprodol, for back pain at 8 o’clock. The muscle relaxant can impair a person’s mental faculties, especially if mixed with alcohol. She drank two glasses of wine and later split a bottle of chianti with Mercer and her boyfriend Chuck Desiderio during dinner.
At Au Bar, she split a bottle of champagne with friends. The woman told investigators she removed her panty hose sometime after leaving the bar, but she could not recall when.
When Smith took off his clothes to go swimming, she decided not to join him. She gave several reasons why: the water was cold, she hardly knew him, she couldn’t swim, she hadn’t regained her figure after having a baby two years earlier.
Attorneys for Smith criticized the release of the documents, saying they didn’t contain the bulk of evidence that could help clear their client. If convicted, Smith could face probation to a 4 1/2-year prison term. Among the documents released was a statement from an “eyewitness” — Patrick Barry, son of former FBI agent and longtime Kennedy family friend William Barry. He said he looked out a window in the seaside estate early March 30 and saw “two shapes or a shape or something” on the lawn near the swimming pool.
Prosecutor Moira Lasch asked Patrick Barry, “When you saw that shape, did it look like they were lying next to each other or were they on top of each other or sitting up? What do you mean by shape?” Barry replied, “I couldn’t really tell what they — just looked like two people either lying next to each other or, you know, one on top of the other, I couldn’t tell, because it was pretty dark.”
He added that he only looked at the “shape” for about 10 seconds before going back to bed. He said he didn’t hear any screaming. The accuser said she screamed both during the alleged attack near the swimming pool and inside the house afterward, and wondered why the senator and others didn’t rescue her. In his sworn statement to investigators, Sen. Kennedy said he persuaded his son, Patrick, and nephew, Smith, to get dressed at midnight March 29 and go out “for a couple of beers.”
At Au Bar, all three met the Jupiter woman, among others. The senator told police that he was told on Easter Sunday they were investigating “a serious offense” involving his nephew, but was not told then of the rape charge.
That evening, Smith called the senator. “You know, there’s some allegations against me,” Smith told his uncle. “And I said, ‘I have heard that.’ And I said -- he said, ‘Do you want the whole story?’ I said, I think I said, ‘You better tell the whole story to someone, to Marvin Rosen.’ And he said, ‘Fine, I will.’ And that’s the total extent that I have talked to him before or at any time about the incident.”
Detectives noted, though, that telephone records from the Kennedy estate showed that the senator had called Miami attorney Marvin Rosen hours after the alleged rape. Rosen is a partner in Greenberg, Traurig, Hoffman, Lipoff, Rosen & Quentel, the firm that is now representing Smith.
Sen. Kennedy told police he called Rosen Saturday simply to wish him a happy Passover. By Sunday, the senator said, he had become concerned enough about police inquiries to hire Rosen to find out about the urn and photograph taken from the estate.
Smith’s attorney Mark Schnapp said the police documents confirm his earlier charge that authorities are giving a one- sided account of the incident and harming Smith’s right to a fair trial.
“We provided them with a list of names of defense witnesses to be interviewed, maybe six or more . . . and those statements are not in the package,” Schnapp said. “If they haven’t interviewed those witnesses, that’s seriously disturbing. If they have interviewed them, the fact that those statements are not included raises serious questions.”
“I don’t know whether all the statements have been transcribed or not or if they just can’t be released,” said Palm Beach police Sgt. William Atkinson. “If some statements aren’t in there, there’s a reason why they’re not being released.”
David Roth, the Jupiter woman’s attorney, declined to comment. Palm Beach County State Attorney David Bludworth could not be reached.
THE TRIALPublished Dec. 8, 1991
The prosecution rested its case Saturday in the William Kennedy Smith rape trial, and the defense called its first witness: a congenial lounge lizard with no socks and his shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest.
Tony Liott, 49, a bartender on the Palm Beach scene for years, contradicted the story of Smith’s accuser. Liott testified he met the woman at Palm Beach restaurant Ta-Boo at 12:30 a.m. March 30. She testified Thursday that she didn’t recall meeting Liott, a longtime friend. She said she entered Au Bar at midnight and stayed until leaving with Smith at 3 a.m.
Liott, entertaining even stern-faced Judge Mary Lupo with his humor and candor, said he and the woman talked for about 20 minutes before she left in her Mazda RX7.
“I got the impression she was going to Au Bar,” Liott said.
His testimony came after the judge refused to let the prosecution introduce a date rape expert. The expert was prepared to testify on rape trauma syndrome, a theory that after a rape, victims often have memory gaps.
The judge disallowed the testimony because it could have delayed the trial until Christmas. The defense insisted it would need time to prepare.
Prosecutors didn’t tell the defense about psychologist Dean Kilpatrick of Maryland until five days before the trial started. Lupo said the prosecution could ask again to present Kilpatrick as a rebuttal witness later if the defense puts on similar testimony.
Without comment, Lupo also dismissed a perfunctory defense motion for a directed acquittal when the state rested at 1:50 p.m. Smith’s lawyers then called their first five witnesses, among them Dr. Henry C. Lee, state crime lab chief in Connecticut. Lee testified that he conducted experiments at the Kennedy estate to test the woman’s story.
He said he brushed a handkerchief across grass and the top step of the concrete stairway, where the woman said Smith grabbed her ankle and she slipped. An “abrasion” was left on the cloth from the concrete, he said. For a second experiment, Lee said he asked defense attorney Mark Seiden to kneel on the Kennedy estate.
The result: The pant knees had a grass stain. Lee drew no conclusions Saturday, but the jurors already have heard that the woman’s dress had no rips, tears or stains.
Prosecutor Moira Lasch will cross-examine Lee in an unusual Sunday afternoon session. The jury voted to hear five hours of testimony Sunday. The defense expects it will take three or four more to present its case.
With the first defense witnesses, Lasch went on the attack for the first time. Her demeanor contrasted sharply with her previous presentation during the 6-day-old trial. In a dull, sometimes flat monotone, she had questioned 23 witnesses, including the accuser, two doctors who examined the woman, Anne Mercer and experts on hair, grass, soil, semen and clothing.
She decided not to call four potentially explosive witnesses: the mother of the woman, her stepfather, the father of her 2-year-old daughter, and Denny Abbott, a rape counselor.
“She did a good job with the critical accusing witness, which is going to make or break the case,” said noted defense attorney F. Lee Bailey. “But she made a disastrous mistake in calling Senator Kennedy. She couldn’t handle him once he got on.”
Paul Rothstein, a Georgetown University law professor, said Lasch was excellent on preparation, terrible on presentation.
“She is not aware apparently that it’s necessary to tell the story dramatically and forcefully and to not bore the jury to death,” Rothstein said Saturday.
With bartender Liott on the stand, Lasch accepted his account of the Ta-Boo encounter. Quickly, she established that Liott and the accuser had a 10-year platonic friendship, the accuser didn’t appear to be drunk that night and their meeting wasn’t a date and “had nothing to do with drugs.”
As he sat on the witness chair in courtroom 411 in West Palm Beach, the bartender’s first words were, “I got fired last night.”
Until Saturday, he worked at The Colony Hotel, a media hangout for the trial. Apparently, he and a new manager had differences. He described the accusing woman as a “nice individual . . . shy,” someone who didn’t go out much. Certainly, he said, she didn’t frequent “hit-on” or pick-up bars.
Early March 30, he said they talked about meeting later at Au Bar.
“It wasn’t a date date, no,” Liott said. But he didn’t go. Too noisy, he said.
After a bench conference, apparently prompted by Lasch’s questions about drugs and the past relationship between the woman and Liott, defense lawyer Roy Black re-examined Liott. Did she show a romantic interest in you at one time? “Maybe it could have gone somewhere, but it never did,” Liott replied. She never asked you about cocaine that night? “No.” Nothing about supplying cocaine? “No.”
Defense witness No. 2, Kendall architect Charles M. Sieger, testified that he examined the Kennedy estate for acoustical properties, calling it a “fairly loud house. . . . Noises would tend to travel very far within the house.” The accuser said last week she screamed that night as she struggled about 15 to 20 feet from the house. None of the dozen people at the house said they heard her.
Sieger said recently he heard a conversation on the beach from a second-floor room at the estate. The compound has no air conditioning nor ceiling fans.
Lasch renewed her aggressive cross-examination: You could hear a conversation on the beach over the ocean? Over waves crashing? “Yes.” Sieger acknowledged that no judge had recognized him as an expert on acoustical properties, he took no technical tests at the site and did not research on the house’s history.
“You are not aware that this was known as the Winter White House of the Kennedys?” asked Lasch. “I was fairly young in the ‘60s,” said the 45-year-old witness, who was paid $6,000 for his expertise. “I didn’t pay attention.” Soon after, photographer Edward Yanowitz testified that the Smith defense paid him nearly $8,000 — including about $4,000 for enlargements.
Earlier Saturday morning, before the defense took over, Lasch called the personal physician of the woman. Dr. Barry Lotman, an orthopedic surgeon in Jupiter, said the woman had tenderness in her chest, pubic bone, rib cage and hip six days after the episode. He said she told him that the pain had worsened in the days afterward. “It hurt her to take a deep breath,” he said.
He described her as distraught and nervous. The anxiety, he said, caused a slight tremor in her right arm, “almost like a palsy.” The woman told him she had been raped and asked him about the possibility of infection with the AIDS virus, he said. She later tested negative for the virus. Defense attorney Mark Seiden suggested that the woman’s complaints paralleled earlier complaints she made after breaking her neck in a car accident in 1974.
Lotman treated the woman in late 1990 for her persistent back pain. Seiden also asked Lotman about the woman’s mobility despite her back pain. Could she kick, bite, scratch, scrape, punch, use her knee in someone’s groin, scream, run? Seiden asked.
QUICK ACQUITTALPublished Dec. 12, 2991
After 77 minutes of deliberation, six jurors Wednesday found William Kennedy Smith innocent of rape. Smith, 31, broke into a broad grin and jumped to his feet to hug attorney Roy Black.
Twenty minutes later, still smiling, the ex-defendant addressed 41 TV cameras, some 200 reporters and a legion of cheering supporters just outside the West Palm Beach courthouse: “I want to thank the jurors,” Smith said. “My life was in their hands.”
Smith, the nephew of Sen. Edward Kennedy, also thanked his family for its support. His mother, brother and two sisters stood by his side. “I’m so happy,” said his mother, Jean Kennedy Smith, as she left Courtroom 411. “I’m so relieved.”
After the verdict, Smith’s seven-member legal team and the family assembled in room 417, closed the door and whooped in joy.
Near midnight Wednesday, Black and several members of the defense team celebrated over beers at Bradley’s, a Palm Beach bar about two miles from the Kennedy estate.
“We’re very happy tonight,” Black said, nursing a light beer. “We were better prepared than they were,” he said. “They were trying to catch up to us at the end.”
Black said Smith became more self-assured during the 16 days of jury selection.
“He was very nervous when we started out. I tried to loosen him up, and he did wonderfully at the end.” Black said he was worried about prosecutor Moira Lasch “up until the last day of the case. You never underestimate Moira Lasch.”
He called the accuser’s testimony “outstanding. It was the best job of preparation I have ever seen.”
Smith’s accuser, a 30-year-old single mother from north Palm Beach County, watched closing arguments on television and remained in seclusion late Wednesday. She issued a statement: “Despite the enormous personal price, I do not for one moment regret the course of action I have pursued,” she said. “. . . All that I have endured is worth it if I can make it easier for one woman to make for me what was the only choice I could, so that I can look myself in the mirror and more importantly my 2-year-old daughter as she grows up.”
Her mother and stepfather attended Wednesday’s closing arguments, but left prior to the verdict. Prosecutor Lasch left the court without comment.
The woman’s account of rape more than eight months ago set off a storm of publicity solely due to one indisputable fact: She accused a Kennedy.
It became America’s most publicized rape trial, televised live to millions by Cable News Network and Courtroom Television Network.
Every day in Palm Beach County alone, hundreds called radio talk shows to give their opinions and verdicts. After 10 consecutive and grueling days of testimony from 46 witnesses, the jury began deliberations at 3:33 p.m. At 4:50 p.m., it had a verdict.
As court clerk Debbie Allen read the jury’s not-guilty verdicts for sexual battery and battery at 5:14 p.m., two jurors cried. Juror Lea Haller, 37, wept openly as she looked at Smith. Court reporter Barry Crane beamed. As the six were excused, Smith nodded at them, whispering, “Thank you.” Under tight security, sheriffs’ deputies whisked the jurors away.
Legal experts said the fast verdict meant that the state failed its burden of proving Smith guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They said the four women and two men probably made up their minds before deliberations even began.
Smith won the case for himself, several experts said. “His testimony and the state’s cross-examination of him was the prosecution’s Waterloo,” said Miami defense attorney Rebekah Poston. But others said the trial may have been decided even before the jurors were sworn in.
Without comment, Judge Mary Lupo ruled inadmissible the statements of three woman — all of whom say Smith sexually attacked them several years ago. The judge also ruled inadmissible the sexual history and past drug use of the woman.
Haller, the weeping juror, said she had read about the statements before she was sworn in, but disregarded them. “To me, that’s just gossip because it was not submitted.”
During closing arguments Wednesday, defense lawyer Black hammered away at the legal doctrine of reasonable doubt. And he appealed to the panel to ignore the Kennedy name and treat Smith like any other defendant.
“The inference here is you have to find him guilty. Otherwise, people will say he’s a member of the Kennedy family and that’s why he got off,” Black said. Prosecutor Lasch called Black’s Kennedy-family argument “specious.” She said the outcome should hinge on one factor: The woman’s story was more credible than Smith’s.
The alleged victim “came forward to tell the truth,” Lasch said in her 90-minute presentation. “The law in the state of Florida gives women the right to say no. (The woman) said no.”
As the lawyers delivered their forceful final statements, seven people sat in the front row, all relatives of principals in the trial. Among them: the woman’s mother and stepfather, Smith’s mother, Jean, and sister Amanda. There was also a man in a white clerical collar — Jesuit seminarian Charles O’Byrne, a family friend. He sat directly behind Smith. He attended Mass with Smith and his mother prior to the 8:30 a.m. court session.
Countering the woman’s rape story, Smith testified Tuesday that they had consensual sex twice. She became furious when he called her the wrong name and then accused him of rape, he said. Lasch, 40, standing at a podium five feet from the jurors, argued that the woman “may not have been a strong individual on March 30, 1991. But she has demonstrated incredibly moral fortitude in coming forward.” “You saw her, you met her,” the prosecutor said. “. . . There was no indication whatsoever that (she) showed any mental problems.”
That night, Lasch said, the woman rejected Smith. That’s when he tackled her, pinned her to the ground, pushed her panties aside and raped her, she said. “She wasn’t wearing shoulder pads. This wasn’t a football game. . . . She was taken down from behind.”
She belittled Smith’s story. If the two had consensual sex, and the woman’s panties were removed, why was sperm found on the underwear? she asked. If Sen. Kennedy said that he, Smith and son Patrick left for Palm Beach nightspot Au Bar at midnight, why were Smith and Patrick Kennedy at a second bar until at least 1:15 a.m.? And why would the woman want to have sex with Smith after meeting him for only an hour in a crowded bar?
“This isn’t date rape,” Lasch said. “This is stranger rape.”
After Lasch finished, and the jurors filed out, her husband Alan hugged her and kissed the top of her head. Lasch, legendary for her steely stare in courtrooms, appeared to wipe away a tear.
Black, 46, angrily rebutted Lasch’s arguments. Could it be true, he said, that Smith “tackled that woman who was screaming at the top of her lungs, under a full moon, on an open lawn, and raped her under the bedroom window of his mother?” “Is it preposterous for a man and a woman to get together after a couple of hours and have sex?”
And what about the semen stains on the woman’s panties? After sex, couldn’t semen drip onto the underwear if the woman walked around?
The woman, Black said, was angry and upset because Smith had treated her rudely. And after she cried rape and told police, “there was no turning back.”
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Use of Woman’s Name in Kennedy Case Reports Sparks Debate on Rape Coverage : Media: Some journalists argue that keeping victims’ names private perpetuates the stigma. Others say identification can put accuser under suspicion.
The debate over whether rape victims should be publicly identified intensified on Wednesday after NBC News and the New York Times disclosed the name of the woman who has charged that she was raped by William Kennedy Smith.
A growing number of journalists argue that by keeping victims’ names private, the media are perpetuating a stigma that rape victims have something to be ashamed of.
But many journalists and legal scholars counter that focusing attention on the accuser can effectively put rape victims rather than assailants under suspicion, and that the decision over going public should remain with the victim.
Both sides, however, criticized the New York Times for its story published Wednesday morning, which described the woman as an unmarried mother who had “moved sharply up the economic scale” when her working-class mother married a rich man. In addition, the story quoted an unnamed source as saying that she had “a little wild streak” in the ninth grade, and described her now as “a fixture in Palm Beach’s expensive bars and nightclubs.”
“I could not justify using that story in my paper,” said Irene Nolan, managing editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal, who is one of those journalists who believes that the names of rape victims should be made public.
“To anyone who thinks the days of stigmatizing rape victims are over, see Page A17 of the New York Times,” said Susan Estrich, a law professor at USC who went public some years ago about her own rape.
“I am not sure how what we see in that story has any relevence to what happened on Easter night in Palm Beach . . . . Her mother’s divorce? Her speeding tickets? All of this . . . is why we have needed a policy of not naming rape victims in the first place.”
Joseph Lelyveld, New York Times managing editor, said he was surprised at the suggestion readers might be offended by the story’s tone. “We just thought of ourselves as bringing out what we knew,” he said.
In the aftermath of the disclosures, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Des Moines Register and Reuters news agency also identified the woman by name. But the great majority of newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, are not publishing her identity.
The 29-year-old Florida woman has alleged that Smith, the nephew of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), raped her in Palm Beach early Easter morning, after she met him in a bar and later agreed to go back with them to the Kennedy estate for a drink.
The woman has refused to be identified, and Florida law bans the media from naming rape victims. But on April 7, a London tabloid named the woman. A week later the supermarket tabloid the Globe, based in Boca Raton, Fla., also published the name and photograph under the headline “Kennedy Rape Gal Exposed.”
Then on Tuesday, following a day of lengthy debate, NBC News aired her picture and name as well. “The more we tell our viewers, the better informed they will be in making up their own minds about the issues involved,” read a statement by NBC News president Michael Gartner. The New York Times swiftly followed, publishing a profile of the woman that was already prepared and which insiders say it was considering running even without her name.
“We were content to go into infinity without naming the lady” until she was “named in a national newscast . . . .” Lelyveld said.
Lelyveld did acknowledge that competition was a factor in the New York Times’ calculations. “We would not have done it first. But we saw no particular virtue in being 10th.”
Several news organizations, including the New York Daily News and the Miami Herald, said they would have to reevaluate their policies in this case if the woman’s name becomes more widely known. The Washington Post held a meeting of editors Wednesday but decided not to change its policy. Similar decisions were made at CBS and ABC.
At the Los Angeles Times, Managing Editor George Cotliar said: “We do not use the name of rape victims unless the victim gives permission.” He added that in this case, “I would expect that The Times would be in the last ranks of those newspapers that would change their policy.”
Perhaps ironically, one of the most ardent critics of the New York Times and NBC is the editor of the often sensational New York Post.
“Not identifying rape victims in press accounts is not why (the victims) were stigmatized,” said Post Editor Jerry Nachman. “And identifying them won’t destigmitize them.”
Not all agree. The policy of protecting a rape victim’s identity “is well worth re-examining,” said Chicago Tribune Editor Jack Fuller, “but it is not something I want to change on the fly. In the Kennedy case . . . I see no compelling reason to go chasing off in a new direction without thinking it all the way through.”
Some journalists also have strong misgivings about the media naming the woman against her will in this case when it observed the privacy last year of the so-called Central Park jogger--a white Wall Street professional who was attacked by a gang of black youths.
“Is the rule that if the assailant is prominent we will identify the victim’s name, but not if (the assailants are) poor and black?” asked Nachman of the Post.
Only last week the Des Moines Register won a Pulitzer Prize for its frank retelling of the rape of Nancy Ziegenmeyer, who told her story after reading a column by Register Editor Geneva Overholser suggesting that the protection of rape victims’ identities was actually helping reinforce old stereotypes.
Overholser, who asked that women voluntarily come forward, said Wednesday that she has come to “deplore” the fascination with the Kennedy case.
One factor in NBC’s decision to use the woman’s name, according to insiders, were arguments set out in a Boston Herald column Monday that was widely circulated among NBC News managers.
“If rape is just like other aggravated assaults and it’s a crime of violence rather than an act of sexuality, then the media should begin to treat rape like it treats other crimes and rape victims like it treats other victims,” wrote Harvard Prof. Alan Dershowitz.
But Estrich at USC countered that the decision must rest with the victim. “It helped me when I was raped (to go public), and I think it helped a lot of other women. But there is a very big difference between a woman coming forward and a news organization deciding to substitute their policy for her judgment.”
RAPE TRIAL JUDGE LIMITS EVIDENCE OF SEXUAL PAST BACKGROUND OF WOMAN ACCUSER BARRED IN KENNEDY KIN'S TRIAL
William Kennedy Smith's judge has barred his attorneys from admitting evidence about his accuser's sexual history.
Without disclosing the substance of the defense requests in the rape trial, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Mary Lupo on Tuesday said she reserved ruling on two requests and denied an unspecified number that constitute the remainder of the requests.
The judge ruled on the matters last week in private after a 1/2-day, closed-door hearing. A private hearing is required under Florida's rape shield law. Lupo revealed the ruling on Tuesday at reporters' request. A written order is expected.
In other matters about the woman's background, Lupo last week prohibited evidence about her being an unwed mother or having had abortions.
Also on Tuesday, Lupo denied Smith's motion to dismiss charges against him.
Smith, 31, nephew of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., is charged with raping a 30-year-old Jupiter woman on March 30 at the Kennedy estate in Palm Beach.
As he left the courthouse on Tuesday after the fourth day of jury selection, Smith was asked how he feels about what prospective jurors have said about his family.
"I know I'm the one who has been charged and I'm the one on trial, but it's difficult sometimes not to feel my family's on trial for me, and in some strange way, I'm on trial for my family. That's not fair to either of us because this trial is not about personalities or politics," he said. "It's about the events of a particular night, and credibility and believability and who's telling a lie."
Smith appeared heartened by one supporter outside the courthouse, who shook his hand and embraced him. Teresa Kilbourn, a 21-year-old government worker from West Palm Beach, had previously given Smith's attorneys a bouquet of flowers and cards of support, she said.
"If he would ask me out some evening, I wouldn't be afraid," she told reporters.
In jury selection proceedings on Tuesday, one prospective juror, questioned about the Kennedy family, burst loudly into tears and said she thought of the late President Kennedy.
"I'm a very sensitive person," sobbed Ellen Gerber, 56, of Highland Beach. "I'm not talking about political parties. I'm talking about the assassination. That's what I see in my mind."
Another prospective juror brought levity to the courtoom, if not outright laughter, with her answers, opinions and details about her life.
Florence Orbach, 78, of Palm Springs, said her first reaction to media accounts was: "Oh boy! The price of those drinks!" referring to Palm Beach bar where Smith met the woman.
Although she avoided stories about the case "like a disease," she retained some details: "It was 2 o'clock. She wanted to see his etchings or his vase. They were in her car. . Then somebody ran around without their pants."
In another stream of consciousness, she said, "I would like to see the Kennedy mansion myself -- in the daytime. Maybe she's lonely. It didn't work out. He didn't marry her the next day. I don't know how comfortable it is having sex in the sand. I don't know."
About the senator, "I just think he's red-faced. I think he's ruining his life, but I think he's a great senator. I think he's idealistic, maybe a little horny."
As she left, Orbach said, "Goodbye Judge," "hasta manana" to the others, and, "Smile, you're pretty," to Assistant State Attorney Moira Lasch. The prosecutor grimaced. Defense attorney Roy Black slapped his knee with pleasure.
Smith Acquitted of Rape Charge After Brief Deliberation by Jury
After deliberating for 77 minutes, a jury acquitted William K. Smith today of charges that he raped a woman at the Kennedy family's Palm Beach estate one moonlit night last Easter weekend.
The jury returned its verdict at 5:10 P.M., giving startlingly short shrift to the pleas they heard from the prosecutor, Moira K. Lasch, in her final argument barely two hours before. Waiting to hear the jurors' decision, Mr. Smith clasped his hands and bowed his head, as if in prayer, as Judge Mary E. Lupo warned that she wanted no histrionics or any "public expression" from anyone upon the reading of the verdict. Grinning Broadly
The judge meant what she said. When the court clerk, Deborah Allen, announced that the jury had cleared Mr. Smith on both counts, of sexual battery and battery, the defendant smiled, jumped up, and hugged his chief defense lawyer, Roy E. Black of Miami, and the judge cried: "Excuse me, Mr. Black! Excuse me!"
The two sat down, and Mr. Smith, who had faced a maximum sentence of up to 15 years, grinned broadly and looked around the courtroom while the judge delivered a 15-minute oration thanking all who had taken part in the trial and remarking on the surprising ease with which a jury had been found to hear the sensational case.
To Mr. Smith, the judge said, "You are released from all responsibilities concerning this case, and your cash bond is discharged."
Forty-five minutes later, after accepting congratulations from court buffs and dashing down corridors to elude reporters, Mr. Smith ambled up for the last time to the bank of microphones stationed in front of the Palm Beach County courthouse. ɺn Enormous Debt'
His face bathed in television lights and bleached by the strobes of flash cameras, his voice cracking at times, he thanked his mother, his family, his lawyers, his jury consultants, and the jurors themselves.
"My life was in their hands and I'm so grateful for the job they did and the seriousness with which they took it," he said, as his mother, Jean Kennedy Smith, a sister to Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, stood at his side, looking still stunned and stressed. "I have an enormous debt to the system and to God and I have a terrific faith in both of them. And I'm just really, really happy. So we'll see you guys later."
Taking their cue from the judge, who once referred to reporters as "barracudas," most of the members of the four-woman, two-man jury refused to talk to reporters tonight.
But Lea Haller, a 37-year-old cosmetics executive, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying that the condition of the dress the woman wore the night of the incident, lacking tears or stains, was an important factor in her decision.
"The dress was an issue for me, no evidence on the dress," she said. Mr. Black had argued that the dress showed Mr. Smith's accuser was not raped. Emotions of Jurors
After the verdict was read, several jurors reacted with emotion. The foreman, Thomas Stearns Jr., who collected seven Purple Hearts in Vietnam, wiped his eyes, as did at least two other jurors. Judge Mary E. Lupo's law secretary and the court reporter beamed.
The prosecutor, Moira K. Lasch, remained expressionless, writing intently on a yellow legal pad as she had almost from the moment court reconvened just after 5 P.M. She left the courthouse without comment.
A family spokesman said that Mr. Smith would begin his medical residency next month at the University of New Mexico hospital in Albuquerque.
Mr. Smith's 30-year-old accuser was not available for comment. Her lawyer, David Roth of West Palm Beach, read a statement from her in which she, too, offered thanks to her supporters. 'I Have Contributed'
"Despite the enormous personal price, I do not for one moment regret the course of action I have pursued," the statement said. "I pray that my decision to proceed was not in vain, and that in some small way I have contributed to a reasoned consideration of the critical issues this case has raised."
Afterward, Mr. Roth read a statement of his own. "The jury has spoken, and we, as well as our client, respect its labors and enormously difficult decision. However, a not guilty verdict does not equate to innocence."
The rape counselor who helped the accuser the day of the incident told the A.P., "I believed her then, and I believe her today."
The counselor, Denny Abbott, said the woman had watched Mr. Smith's testimony Tuesday. "She didn't expect him to tell the same story she did," he told the A.P., "but she was a little taken aback at the story he told."
He said the woman was "tough." "She's strong," he said. "She'll take care of herself." Stunning Rebuke
The jury's decision was a stunning rebuke to Mrs. Lasch and the Palm Beach County State Attorney's office, which spent eight months and hundreds of thousands of dollars prosecuting Mr. Smith, the 31-year-old nephew of a President and two Senators and the cousin of a congressman.
Offering an amalgam of sex, the dynamics of date rape, Palm Beach society and the personal foibles of America's most famous family, the case attracted international interest and gavel-to-gavel television coverage. The trial's graphic testimony reached millions of homes.
The verdict came with the lightning speed that characterized the trial. Judge Lupo, in setting a trial date of Dec. 2, had pledged to get jurors finished and home by Dec. 20. She easily beat that goal by running a Saturday and Sunday court session, paring each side's witness lists and ruling instantly on motions.
One evening last week, after a full day of testimony by the accuser ended at 10 minutes to 6, the courtroom filled with the expectant sounds of people preparing to leave -- until the judge declared that 10 more minutes remained, so 10 minutes of work would be done. The next witness was called.
The deliberations may also have been speeded by Florida's practice of seating 6 jurors, rather than 12, for felony cases.
The verdict came so swiftly today that Mr. Smith and his legal team had to backtrack from the Kennedy estate almost as soon as they arrived. It marked an almost instantaneous end to the prolonged ordeal that began in the early morning hours of March 30, shortly after Mr. Smith met the woman at a Palm Beach night club called Au Bar.
The woman asserted that Mr. Smith used his charm and even the knowledge he had picked up in medical school to lure her to his family's estate before tackling her on the lawn and raping her.
In 10 days of testimony, the two sides called 45 witnesses. There was testimony on grains of sand and blades of grass, as well as experts on meteorology, clothing analysis, and penile penetration.
There were the obscure, like bartenders and parking valets, and famous, like Senator Kennedy, whose desire to go out after what he described as a somber evening of family reminiscences set the whole odyssey in motion. And there were the two antagonists. Affecting Testimony
Both to the handful of people sitting in Judge Lupo's courtroom and the millions who saw her only as a figure behind an gray electronic circle, the testimony of the woman, the single mother of a 2-year-old, was deeply affecting. But there were numerous inconsistencies and gaps in her account, which she had described and redescribed to rape counselors, policemen, lawyers and, most recently, jurors.
Very much in contrast was Mr. Smith's immaculately airtight version of events, which he gave for the first time on Tuesday. He depicted the woman as sexually aggressive, hysterical and, ultimately, unreliable. Both he and his lawyer acknowledged that Mr. Smith had intercourse with the woman, and that he had treated her caddishly and callously afterwards.
But the outcome of the case hinged on more than the testimony of the main players.
Mr. Smith won an important victory before the first witness was called, when Judge Lupo barred prosecutors from introducing testimony of three women -- two graduate students and a doctor -- who came forward after the Florida woman surfaced to say that Mr. Smith had either assaulted them or attempted to do so.
In general, testimony about a defendant's prior criminal behavior or allegations like those made by the three women may not be heard by a jury. Different Techniques
Then there were the lawyers themselves. To some extent, there was a disparity of resources: two civil servants versus four respected private practitioners headed by Mr. Black, the man many regard as the finest criminal defense lawyer on the fertile legal territory of southern Florida. Mr. Smith retained Cathy Bennett, the nation's premier jury consultant, and spent tens of thousands of dollars on experts and exhibits.
Looming even larger than that, however, was the disparity in technique and, some said, talent. Mrs. Lasch tried her case in precisely the way she composed and delivered her closing statement Tuesday: long on detail, short on indignation.
Still, in the eyes of many, the prosecutor's closing argument represented one of her more effective moments in this case. She tried to demonstrate that the events of the evening could not have occurred at the leisurely pace described by prosecution witnesses. There was not time enough for the gradual buildup to consensual sex that Mr. Smith described, she said.
"She didn't know this man," Mrs. Lasch said. "She didn't even have an opportunity to know him."
And of the defendant's central assertion, the prosecutor said: "He tries to tell you that this woman rubbed up against him and relentlessly pursued him in the bar, only to find out she's not even using birth control. Is that really believable? Is it?"
She added, "This woman's had a child. She's a high-risk pregnancy. If she was going to have consensual sex on March 30, 1991, she would use birth control." Not 'Preposterous'
Mr. Black, by comparison, burnished his reputation as a lawyer with a sophisticated legal mind beneath a veneer of the Everyman.
In his closing statement, he called on jurors to draw on "general, human common sense," in reaching their conclusions about the behavior of both Mr. Smith and his accuser. Mrs. Lasch's vision of relations between the sexes, he suggested, was limited and unrealistic.
"She keeps making the point that it's spring break in Florida, and it's preposterous that a man and a woman would get together after knowing each other for a couple of hours and have sex," he said. On the contrary, he said, it would not be at all unusual for "two young people" to have sex, especially on a moonlit night on a secluded beach and later with a large walled estate that afforded them privacy.
He ridiculed the prosecutor's assertion that it was hard for her to accept Mr. Smith's testimony that he would choose to have sex with a woman under Mrs. Smith's bedroom window. "What's the other side of that coin?" he asked. "What they want us to believe is that this young man goes up there and rapes a screaming woman under the open windows not only of his mother, but his sister, two prosecutors from New York, and the father of one of them, who is a former special agent for the F.B.I.
"They want you to believe that he ran across that lawn, tackled that woman, who was screaming at the top of her lungs under those open windows, and rapes her."
After the verdict, the two Kennedy men who accompanied Mr. Smith to the nightclub on the night of the incident made statements. Both had been called by the prosecution to testify, and both did so Friday.
In Rhode Island, where he is a state legislator, Mr. Smith's cousin Patrick Kennedy said: "This has been a very difficult time for my family. I believed in my cousin Willie's innocence all along. The jury's swift verdict will now allow Willie and all of us to get on with our lives."
And Senator Kennedy, spoke to reporters briefly outside the John F. Kennedy Federal Building in downtown Boston. Over the months, as his nephew was first named as a suspect, then arrested, the brought to trial, Senator Kennedy had been widely viewed as having suffered considerable political damage.
Aside from the question of Mr. Smith's guilt or innocence, the Senator was criticized, even ridiculed, for waking the two young men and persuading them to accompany him to the bar that evening.
Tonight the Senator said: "I'm gratified by the verdict. Iɽ always believed that after all the facts were in, that Will would be found innocent."
And he added, "If there's anything good that has come out of this whole long experience, it's the renewed closeness of our family and friends."