URGENT Alleged Victim Takes Stand in Smith Rape Trial
Dec. 04, 1991
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ William Kennedy Smith stood up in court today and faced his accuser as the dark-haired woman identified him as the man she met at a trendy discotheque.
The woman whose charge of rape touched off headlines around the world took the stand and spoke calmly as she began outlining her version of the events of the morning of March 30.
''Did you meet the defendant, William Kennedy Smith, on March 30, 1991?'' asked the prosecutor, Moira Lasch.
''Yes,'' said the woman.
''Do you see him in court?'' she asked.
''He's standing right there,'' she said as Smith, clad in a dark blue suit, arose and faced her.
The 30-year-old woman, dressed in a dark gray dress and pearls, spoke of making plans with her friend, Anne Mercer, to visit another friend on Easter Weekend. She said she left her 2-year-old daughter with her mother.
Because her identity is being shielded, her face was blocked out on TV broadcasts by a large gray circle.
The woman says Smith, 31, the nephew of Sen. Edward Kennedy, tackled and raped her on the lawn of the Kennedy family's Palm Beach estate March 30. He says she lied about the encounter because she became angry after they had consensual sex. The charges could bring 4 1/2 years in prison.
Earlier today, Smith's attorney, Roy Black, harshly questioned Ms. Mercer during her cross-examination, suggesting the witness lied about who took an urn from the Kennedy estate and whether the senator watched the sexual encounter.
''But she never told me that he was watching,'' Ms. Mercer testified as Smith's rape trial entered its third day. ''I made that assumption by her affirmative display of hysteria.''
Another witness, an emergency room doctor who treated the alleged victim March 30, told the court today that the woman would have had to have been ''sophisticated in medical techniques'' to have faked evidence that she was raped that night.
Black played for the jury a taped police interview March 30 in which Ms. Mercer said ''even the senator was watching'' and asked the alleged victim ''didn't he do anything?''
At another point, talking about an urn taken from the estate, Black told Ms. Mercer, ''To be blunt, you were lying, weren't you?''
''I don't like you to say that to me,'' replied Ms. Mercer.
The Massachusetts Democrat will be called as a state witness, Ms. Lasch has said. Kennedy has said in a pretrial statement he had gone to sleep and saw nothing of Smith and the woman at the estate. Smith's attorney suggested Ms. Mercer added the senator to her story to make it easier to sell.
Ms. Mercer on Tuesday testified finding the Jupiter woman disheveled, crying and hysterical when she called her to the Kennedy estate to pick her up after the alleged rape.
Before she concluded her testimony today, Ms. Mercer agreed however that the woman was able to get into her own car and find her way back to Ms. Mercer's home, which she had been to only once, after the incident.
Black questioned her about why a photo of two of Smith's small cousins, a legal pad and an urn were taken from the estate.
The alleged victim has said she took the photo and legal pad to prove she was at the estate, while Ms. Mercer's boyfriend, Chuck Desiderio, took the urn because he thought the Jupiter woman wanted him to and and he wanted to calm her.
''She might have taken these items for revenge,'' Ms. Mercer said under Black's questioning. ''I don't understand why the items were taken in the first place.''
Dr. Rebecca Prostko, emergency room physician, detailed both her physical examination of the woman, which found a rib injury and other signs of injury, and her observation of the woman's emotions. She concluded that she indeed had been raped.
The woman's behavior ''would be kind of hard to fake. She'd have to be sophisticated in some psychopathology and sophisticated in medical techniques in order to have faked every aspect of this,'' Prostko testified. ''So I didn't get that impression at all.''
Under prosecution questioning, the doctor testified that she had no idea when she examined the woman and reached her conclusions that the case involved the Kennedy family.
Black began his cross-examination of Ms. Mercer a day earlier, challenging Ms. Mercer for selling her story to TV for $40,000. Today he questioned her about initial statements to the police that the alleged victim claimed the senator watched and that she was ''raped twice.'' Black also had Ms. Mercer tell the jury that she and Desiderio took a vacation to Mexico with some of the TV money.
Ms. Mercer said her statements to police were based on assumptions from the woman's hysterical comments.
''Sir, you are painting me as a liar here,'' Ms. Mercer said, and Black replied: ''Ms. Mercer, whether you are a liar or not is determined by the jury.''
Ms. Mercer denied Black's suggestion she ''realized you could cash in on the Kennedy name.'' Courtroom spectators gasped at the $40,000 figure, the amount Ms. Mercer received for her appearances on the tabloid TV show ''A Current Affair.''
Ms. Mercer, 33, who had gone out on the town with Smith's accuser the night of March 29-30, testified she saw the woman leave a disco with Smith about 3 a.m. She said she received a call from the woman about 4:15 a.m.
''What did she say to you?'' asked Ms. Lasch.
''That she had been raped. She asked me to come and pick her up. She said she was at the Kennedy estate,'' Ms. Mercer said.
Ms. Mercer said she arrived with her boyfriend, whom the woman had asked her to bring ''for safety,'' and found the woman standing at the top of an outdoor staircase, ''literally shaking ... hysterical.''
Black asked Ms. Mercer why, if she believed Smith was a rapist, she walked through the mansion alone with him, then down a dark stairwell onto a deserted beach in search of the alleged victim's shoes.