Defense: Reynolds' Accuser 'Bizarre' Girl and a Liar
Aug. 22, 1995
CHICAGO (AP) _ Instead of the sexual predator described by prosecutors, Rep. Mel Reynolds is actually the victim of a disturbed teen-ager who tried to use telephone sex to extort money from him, his attorney said.
His voice rising, defense attorney Ed Genson shook his fists and shouted to the jury that Beverly Heard ``lied in this courtroom in front of your very eyes!''
``A whole life is being taken down by this girl, a girl who cannot be believed, who they cannot believe!'' Genson bellowed Monday during closing arguments in Reynolds' sex-abuse trial.
The jury deliberated for about 3 1/2 hours before adjourning for the night. Deliberations were to resume this morning.
Reynolds is accused of having sex with Heard, a former volunteer campaign worker, when she was 16 and 17.
If convicted of sexual assault, the most serious charge against him, Reynolds faces a mandatory sentence of at least four years in prison. He also is charged with sexual abuse, trying to obtain child pornography and orchestrating a recantation by Heard.
Prosecutor Andrea Zopp angrily denied Genson's suggestion that race and politics played a role in the case against the 43-year-old Democrat. ``The defendant sits here today not because he's a congressman, not because he's an African-American, but because he committed a crime,'' she said.
Assistant State's Attorney Colleen Hyland accused Reynolds of luring Heard into a sexual relationship ``like a hunter stalks his prey.''
``He used everything he had, his position ... his office, to get her to have sex with him,'' she said.
Reynolds testified that he never had sex with Heard, only fantasized about it during phone conversations.
Genson said Heard is a ``bizarre'' girl who was into devil worship and influenced by her lesbian lover. He noted that Heard recanted her story of having sex with Reynolds, and testified only after being jailed for 11 days for refusing to do so.
Genson also urged jurors not to accept at face value tape recordings of phone calls in which Reynolds and Heard discuss their ``good times.'' Heard let authorities tape the calls after she went to them with her story.
``When is she telling the truth? When is she telling you the same malarkey she told Mel Reynolds on those tapes?'' Genson said. ``How are you to believe one word that woman says beyond a reasonable doubt?''
He told jurors he wasn't there to defend Reynolds' sins, ethics, hormones or ``middle-age crazies.''
But prosecutors reminded jurors that in one of the taped conversations, Reynolds talked about how he ``used to'' have sex with heard.
``He can call it fantasy all he wants,'' Zopp said. ``But the fact of the matter is his own words, his words, corroborate Beverly Heard.''