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Jury Acquits Marine on Sexual Assault Charges

February 19, 1988

QUANTICO, Va. (AP) _ A seven-officer Marine Corps jury Friday acquitted Marine Cpl. Lindsey Scott in his second trial on charges he sexually assaulted and tried to kill the wife of a fellow Marine in 1983.

When the verdict was announced, Scott turned to the jury and said, ″Thank you, sirs.″

Scott’s mother screamed three times, ″Thank you, Jesus.″

Later, Scott told reporters, ″A weight that has been on my shoulders the last five years has been lifted.″

Maj. Ron McNeil, the Marine prosecutor, said the investigation of the attack was closed.

″We’ll probably never know what happened,″ he said after the verdict. ″After almost five years after the facts, the issue is dead.″

It took the jury 11 hours to reach the verdict on charges of rape, kidnapping, sodomy and attempted murder.

Scott, 32, of Louisville, Ky., had been convicted of the same charges in 1983 and sentenced to 30 years in prison. That verdict was overturned July 7 by the U.S. Military court of Appeals on grounds that Scott had not received adequate counsel from his civilian attorney.

Although Scott supporters have alleged racism was involved in the earlier conviction, because he is black and the victim white, Scott said his feelings for the Marine Corps have not changed.

″The Marines are the best fighting force in the world and the best branch of the service. There were six whites and one black on the jury. If it was racially motivated, I would have been convicted,″ Scott said.

During the 17 days of testimony, the defense attacked the Naval Investigation Service’s handling of the crime probe. John Leino, one of Scott’s civilian attorneys, charged that investigators used an improper lineup and manipulated the victim into identifying Scott.

The defense presented witnesses who said the victim was uncertain when she picked Scott from the lineups, and also identified other men as resembling her attacker.

McNeil denied the investigation service conspired against Scott.

The victim positively identified Scott as her assailant from the witness stand and picked Scott from both a physical lineup and photographic lineup in 1983.

Also at issue was the testimony of Cynthia Ausby, a security guard at a Woodbridge department store. She testified at the first trial that Scott was in the department store, but could not remember the exact date.

In the second trial, Ms. Ausby testified she was certain Scott was in the store at the time the victim was attacked the night of April 20, 1983.

McNeil said Ms. Ausby’s sudden certainty was not credible, but the defense argued that Ms. Ausby’s recollection was aided 10 months after the crime by her checking of store arrest records.

Ms. Ausby said the records showed she had mistaken Scott for a similarly dressed shoplifter she was pursuing the night of the assault. She also was aided by pictures of Scott that were better than one shown her before the first trial by an NIS agent.

The victim of the attack, who now lives with her family in Rochester, N.Y., testified that she was lured from her off-base apartment by a telephone caller who said a Marine would be over to give her a ride to her husband, who had been injured.

Her husband, another member of Scott’s battalion, was unhurt. She was driven by her escort to a remote section of the northern Virginia base, where she was sexually assaulted, stabbed and left for dead.

Two other Marines found her that night bloodied and dazed and brought her to a base clinic for treatment.