PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach police on Friday named William Kennedy Smith, nephew of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), as the suspect in an alleged rape of a 29-year-old woman at the Kennedy family mansion here on Easter weekend.
It was decided to publicly name Smith as the suspect after the woman who filed the complaint identified his photo, a source close to the case said. The woman's name is being withheld by police.
Craig Gunkel, Palm Beach police spokesman, would not say whether charges will be filed against Smith, 30, a fourth-year student at Georgetown Medical School in Washington.
"The investigation is continuing," Gunkel said.
Palm Beach police said Smith's Miami attorney, Mark Schnapp, a former federal prosecutor, had refused to make his client available for an interview by detectives investigating the case.
Smith, Sen. Kennedy and the senator's son Patrick, 24, had drinks until the early morning hours of March 30 at Au Bar, a jet-set establishment here where they allegedly met the woman.
She reportedly told police that she accepted an invitation to return to the Kennedy mansion and that Smith raped her there.
Sen. Kennedy and Patrick Kennedy, a Rhode Island legislator, have denied any involvement, and Smith said on Wednesday that "any suggestion I was involved in any offense is erroneous."
Sen. Kennedy said Friday that "being named a suspect does not mean one has committed an offense. When all the facts come out, I'm sure Willie will be vindicated."
Smith is the second son of Sen. Kennedy's sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, and the late Stephen Smith, who managed the Kennedy family's multimillion-dollar holdings until his death from cancer last August. The senior Smith ran John F. Kennedy's successful 1960 presidential election campaign.
A source close to the Kennedy family who asked not to be identified said William Smith had been reluctant to join his family for its traditional Easter gathering here because of the need to study for medical exams. But he did attend at the urging of his mother, according to the source.
Palm Beach police Capt. Brian D. Roch testified in court Thursday that investigators were still awaiting the completion of lab tests in the case.
A spokesman for Humana Hospital here said tests were performed on the woman as she was being treated by an emergency room doctor for unspecified injuries about 10 hours after the alleged rape. The spokesman refused to describe the tests.
Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Richard L. Oftedal said in an order Friday that the investigation has "a reasonable, good faith anticipation of securing an arrest or prosecution in the foreseeable future." Oftedal made the comment in denying an order sought by two local newspapers and a television station to force the police to release "an incident report" on the alleged rape that includes the victim's description.
David Roth, an attorney retained by the alleged victim, said "her sole motive . . . is to make sure the perpetrator who committed the sexual assault on her is brought to justice." Roth said his client has turned down and will continue to reject "very substantial offers of money from the media for an interview."
Tabloid papers, led by British publications, have reportedly offered her up to $100,000 to be interviewed about the incident.
A friend of William Smith stepped forward in his defense Friday. "He's really the last guy in the world to get involved in a jam like this," said Mark Mirkin, a Palm Beach attorney who roomed with Smith during his freshman year at Duke in 1979.
Staff writer Helaine Olen in Washington contributed to this story.