A prosecutor warned jurors yesterday not to be distracted by lawyersrepresenting real estate broker Gary Hart, who is on trial for first-degree rape, as the defense tries to shift the focus of the trial byattacking the credibility of the alleged victim.
"Just remember that this is not (the alleged victim) vs. Gary Hart," Assistant State's Attorney William C. Mulford II said. "This is Gary Hart vs. the state."
Already, Hart's lawyers have described the alleged victim as a woman with a mental disorder that makes her fantasize about rape, who tried to commit suicide twice as a teen-ager and who once worked as a prostitute for a College Park escort service.
Yesterday, defense lawyer Arnold Weiner continued the attack on her credibility he began during pre-trial motions Wednesday, saying the woman once told doctors she had killed a Michigan police officer who raped her.
Weiner also said that Thursday, after the jury was selected, the woman lockedherself in a boyfriend's house with a gun, accusing the man of working for Hart's defense.
"Unfortunately, shedding light on this involves making you privy to a very serious mental disorder (the alleged victim) suffers," Weiner told the jury during his one-hour, 15-minuteopening statement, as he tried to persuade members that the woman's past will render her testimony unreliable.
Jurors could hear from the alleged victim as early as today, when Hart's trial continues in Circuit Court in Annapolis. Hart was indicted in January on first-degree rape charges after a 33-year-old woman told police she was attacked in Hart's home Oct. 16 in the 3700 block of Thomas Point Drive.
The woman told police that Hart held her down in his bedroom with his arms across her neck, making it difficult for her to breathe, courtrecords show.
Hart, who founded a real estate firm in 1974 that bears his name, has said he had sex with the woman that night but saysit was consentual.
Yesterday, Weiner continued his attack on the woman's personal life, with much of the new information coming from detailed psychiatric records released to the defense team Wednesday under court order.
Weiner told jurors that when the woman was 16 years old and living in the Detroit area, she told a psychiatrist that she had been raped by a narcotics detective and that she killed the officer when he returned to abuse her some more.
The lawyer said thewoman told doctors she had been prosecuted for murder, but was acquitted on a self-defense charge. He said the woman had told this story 12 times to different people.
"This is a product of the poor woman's sick mind," Weiner said, "because none of this ever happened."
Weiner also said that on Thursday, after jury selection, the woman barricaded herself in a room at the home of her boyfriend and accused him of working for Hart.
He said Dave Cordle, an investigator working for the State's Attorney's office, had to go to the house to calm the woman down.
The defense attorney also said that Mulford and his office have given the woman an incredible amount of support, allowing her to sit in on a rape trial he prosecuted three weeks ago and helping her move out of her boyfriend's apartment.
The victim "also sat in on the final arguments where she heard Mr. Mulford tell the jury that they could believe the victim beyond a reasonable doubt because she cried on the witness stand."
Prosector Mulford said during his opening arguments that the jury can believe what the woman will tell them.
"Think about what she is testifying about," he said. "This is not only a crime, but a sexual act, which is usually a private matter. The case is going to turn on her credibility, whether you find her to be trustworthy."
Mulford said the only reason the woman came over to Hart's home on Oct. 15 was because her Annapolis apartment had been flooded by a malfunctioning dishwasher.
After going outto dinner, he said Hart gave her something to wear and offered her the couch. Mulford said Hart then became an "animal," raping the womanwhile holding her face to the carpet, yelling obscenities and screaming, "Sherry," the name of his ex-wife.
"You will hear testimony that Hart said he was above the law, that he is too powerful to be convicted of rape or even charged with rape," Mulford said.
Mulford said Lee Mowen, a former employee of Hart's real estate company, wouldtestify that Hart told him there is no such thing as date rape, thatit is a "talk-show kind of thing," and that if a person pays for a date and kisses the woman, sex is to be expected.
Hart "was pale and pacing and nervous and distraught," Mulford said. "He was not a composed man, not a passionate man, but perhaps the man that raped (the woman)."