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Florida Rape Case Account Again Attacked by Defense

August 10, 1991|From Associated Press

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — William Kennedy Smith's attorneys renewed their attacks Friday on the credibility of a woman who says that Smith raped her. And they accused the lead prosecutor of grandstanding.

"There is indeed strong and compelling evidence indicating (the woman) is mentally or emotionally unstable and that, due to this instability, her allegations are spurious," Smith's attorneys said in a court filing.

The attorneys filed papers setting up their arguments for a pretrial hearing before Palm Beach Circuit Judge Mary Lupo. The judge recessed the hearing after about an hour without making any rulings.

Defense attorney Roy Black objected to a plan by prosecutors to make public more pretrial testimony. But Ken Selvig, chief assistant state attorney, said documents would be released under Florida's public disclosure laws.

Smith's attorneys contend that lead prosecutor Moira Lasch is promoting her case with public disclosures, including statements by three other women who say Smith attacked them.

Motions set for the hearing included efforts by the woman's attorneys to block defense requests for her comprehensive medical and psychological records and the state's demand for a speedy trial.

Smith, a 30-year-old nephew of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), is charged with raping a 29-year-old Florida woman on March 30 at his family's Palm Beach estate. He has denied raping the woman.

The judge earlier postponed Smith's scheduled Aug. 5 trial until Jan. 13 after defense attorneys said they needed more time to prepare and to let publicity cool down.

Lasch contended that the state and the woman are entitled to a speedy trial--no later than Oct. 2. The judge did not specifically rule on that motion but denied the prosecutor's request for trial by Oct. 2.

Smith's attorneys scoffed at the prosecution request, writing: "It is simply another example of the prosecutor's grandstanding to garner publicity."

They criticized Lasch for using the court to make what they called "hysterical speeches" about the "mystical Kennedy publicity machine."

Smith's attorneys said conflicts in the woman's statements, her discussions of childhood abuse and a history of emotional problems make her medical and psychological records important.

"The combination of objective evidence before, during and after the alleged rape dramatically suggests that (the woman) is suffering a psychiatric disorder that could explain the reason she has made a false accusation against Smith," Smith's attorneys wrote.

Lasch said the defense was trying to highlight "the most inflammatory" parts of the woman's background.

Douglas Duncan, the woman's attorney, said most of the information was either irrelevant or would be inadmissible as evidence. He said the defense was threatening her "constitutional right to privacy."

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