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Researcher Convicted of Rape

July 25, 2002

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RESERVE, N.M. (AP) _ A woman who said a fellow wildlife researcher drugged and raped her while they were studying bears in the wild wept and hugged her husband as a jury convicted her colleague on 36 counts.

The accused man, Patrick Ryan, 51, was found guilty Wednesday of criminal sexual penetration, criminal sexual contact, kidnapping and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Ryan, who did not testify, will be sentenced in two months.

Prosecutors said Ryan raped Jenny Cashman Lisignoli, whom he had drugged with an animal tranquilizer.

Ryan maintained that the sex had been consensual and that he and the woman were victims of carbon monoxide poisoning, not the drug. He stood with his hands crossed in front of him and stared sternly ahead when the verdict was read.

Afterward, Lisignoli said she wants ``to see sexual predators like him put away so he won’t hurt another woman, child or man ever again.″

Lisignoli first went public when she filed a civil lawsuit against Ryan in 1998. Her lawsuit was settled; the terms were not disclosed.

Prosecutors said Ryan was obsessed with Lisignoli and slipped ketamine, a sometime ``date rape″ drug also used to immobilize bears for research or treatment, into her food and drink. He took advantage of her while she was sedated, prosecutors said.

Before rendering its verdict, the jury watched six hours of graphic videotapes found by investigators that showed Ryan having sex with the woman.

Defense Attorney Daniel Salazar said he would appeal, citing the judge’s finding of juror misconduct during deliberations Wednesday and the search of Ryan’s property.

One juror had copied pages of a law book discussing sex crimes and shared them with two others. The judge said that was inappropriate, but did not remove any of the jurors. He rejected Salazar’s motion for a mistrial.

Both Ryan and the woman had studied bears from 1995-97 under a contract with the state Game and Fish Department.

When the woman was hospitalized in 1997, investigators found the videotapes in a trailer the two shared while researching black bears in southwestern New Mexico. Until then, doctors had said they believed the woman suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The woman had described several symptoms _ headaches, allergies, dizzy spells and lethargy.

Salazar told jurors it was more likely that Lisignoli had drugged herself. He said she had been jealous of Ryan because he was still obsessed with a longtime former girlfriend.

He also read from a September 1996 journal entry, written after she took a trip with Ryan to Yellowstone National Park. It said, ``Pat has been great″ and was ``maybe a future partner.″

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