Fla. woman gave tearful rape account Police report cites Kennedy's nephew

April 12, 1991|By Shirley E. Perlman | Shirley E. Perlman,Newsday

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Crying and shaking with emotion, the woman who said she was raped at the Kennedy compound here told a police officer about nine hours after the incident that William Kennedy Smith grabbed her by the ankle near the pool on the estate, "where after some struggling he sexually assaulted her," according to a copy of an official police report obtained by Newsday.

The report, taken about 1:20 p.m. March 30, described the woman, 29, as distraught and hysterical at points during the interview with police and said details of her story were difficult to extract. "It is noted by this officer that [the victim] was in the beginning very reluctant to tell this officer what happened as she stated that the person who assaulted her is a relative of a very prominent and nationally known subject."

Mr. Smith, whom police have named as a suspect, is the nephew of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

[Mr. Smith, who has kept a low profile and avoided questions since the allegations were made public April 1, issued a statement yesterday through his Washington attorneys in which he strongly denied abusing the woman and said that "any suggestion to the contrary is a damnable lie," the Associated Press reported.

["I emphatically deny that the woman in question was abused orthat force was used by me in any way," Mr. Smith said.

[A source, meantime, told the Miami Herald that samples of Mr. Smith's hair, blood and pubic hair were found to be consistent with evidence, including semen, taken from the victim.

[The lab test results, according to a source, were tentative findings by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Crime Lab. The final report is not to be forwarded to detectives until Monday, police and lab personnel said.

[Because they are preliminary, the results are more useful in excluding a suspect than in matching him to an alleged rape victim. Only DNA testing, which has not been performed, can establish a suspect with near-certainty.]

The woman told the officer, whose name was withheld as a condition of receiving the police report, that she and some acquaintances had gone to dinner that night and later to a Palm Beach nightclub called Au Bar.

"She went on to state briefly that she met a subject there who later identified himself as William Smith . . . he was in his late 20s," the report states. "Mr. Smith [who is 30] introduced her to a man he identified as Ted Kennedy and stated, 'This is my uncle.'"

She told the police officer that she stayed at the bar talking and dancing with Mr. Smith until it closed. Mr. Smith, she said, asked her if he could take her home to his uncle's place in the northern end of Palm Beach. She drove him there in her car, the woman told the officer.

Mr. Smith, she said, showed her around the estate, then told her, "Let's go walk on the beach." Once they got to the ocean at the back of the estate, "Mr. Smith took his clothes off because he wanted to go swimming," she said.

At this point in the interview, the officer noted, the woman began "crying and shaking." She told police that after Mr. Smith was in the water, she decided "it was best for her to get home." As she walked near the pool on the estate, she said, she was sexually assaulted.

After the attack, she told the officer, they went in the house, where Mr. Smith tried to persuade her that he had not raped her. At that point, the report says, she telephoned a friend. Her friend came, "escorted her out of the house and then they left," the report says.

The report said police were contacted by a victim's services counselor at a rape center about 10 a.m. that day. The counselor said that a woman "who was quite upset" said she had been sexually assaulted but would give no details, including her

last name.

The counselor arranged for a meeting with the police officer who took the report.

Police said yesterday that they will release a narrative of the sequence of events in the alleged assault at a news conference today.

*

On Wednesday a former housemate of the woman, who has not been identified by police, told Newsday he had no doubt that she was sexually assaulted.

John Butler, who was reluctant to speak to a reporter, said the woman talked to him just hours after she said she was raped. Mr. Butler is the father of her 2-year-old child.

"She was hysterical and crying," said Mr. Butler, who declined to say how or where he spoke to the woman that night. Asked whether he was convinced that the woman had been attacked at the Kennedy compound, Mr. Butler answered emphatically, "Oh, yeah."

Mr. Butler refused to provide any additional details of his conversation with the woman, insisting, "I don't want to say anything that will hurt [the victim]. She's so upset."

Senator Kennedy and his son Patrick, 23, a Rhode Island legislator, were also at the estate the night of the incident.

*

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