Alleged Victim Suicidal During Breakup, Psychiatrist Says

June 27, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

The woman accusing real estate broker Gary Hart of rape was so overwhelmed by the thought of breaking up with a former Washington Redskins player that she became abusive and suicidal, an Annapolis psychiatrist testified yesterday.

Dr. Richard Templeton said the football player, James W. Steffan, was trying to slow down the relationship he had with the woman three years ago, but she was unable to cope.

"(Steffan) led me to believe that they had a very intense relationship and he was feeling powerless and overwhelmed in how to deal with it," Templeton said.

Templeton said he had spoken with Steffan in person and over the phone during the woman's treatment.

"He (Steffan) was trying to get a little space and she was feeling suicidal and abandoned," Templeton said. "On varying occasions, she would breakthings in his apartment -- she would throw things at him."

The testimony, coming on the eighth day the trial, was an attempt by Hart'slawyers to show the victim could not deal with ending relationships.

Defense lawyers contend that during a breakup, the woman's hatredfor men explodes, giving her "an altered or impaired sense of reality."

Hart's lawyers say the woman reported being raped only becauseHart was trying to break off their relationship. The woman has testified that there was no intimate relationship.

The woman has testified that Hart raped and choked her Oct. 16 in his home on Thomas Point Road following a date. Hart has admitted in interviews that he had sex with the woman, but said it was consentual.

Assistant State's Attorney William C. Mulford II sought to prevent the psychiatrist from testifying, saying the woman had signed an affidavit declining to release privileged communications with her doctors.

The judge has allowed all the psychiatric reports on the woman into evidence, which means the jurors will be allowed to read them. But Mulford argued that is as far as the court should go.

"This jury is entitled to hearall relevant evidence pertaining to a rape, something counsel seems to ignore," the prosecutor said. "It's one thing to disclose records.It's another thing to ask about privileged communication between herand her psychiatrist."

But one of Hart's lawyers, Arnold Weiner, said the victim has denied telling doctors about many things, particularly that she was found one day by a friend curled up on the floor fondling a gun.

"The witness can lie like a bandit and we are stuckwith those lies," Weiner said. "We would be stuck with one fabrication after another. It would be like blindfolding and shackling us."

Circuit Judge H. Chester Goudy agreed and allowed the doctor to answer the questions.

Templeton said the woman's case "would be difficult for any therapist to deal with" because of its severity. He said he saw her about seven times from Nov. 18 to Dec. 9, 1988.

"She was extremely depressed, very despondent and quite withdrawn," he said."The changing relationship with Mr. Steffan had her so depressed that she was drinking heavily."

Templeton said he diagnosed the womanas suffering from a borderline personality disorder, that could makeher misinterpret events.

During cross examination, Mulford asked the doctor if his diagnosis of the woman could be considered normal, especially if the woman had been traumatized before. The woman has testified she was raped at age 16.

"Would she misinterpret a rape?" Mulford asked.

"I can't say for sure," Templeton answered.

Alsotestifying yesterday was Dr. Kenneth Gummerson, director of emergency services at Anne Arundel Medical Center. He examined the woman Oct.16.

He testified that he found no evidence of bruises or choke marks or signs of a forcible rape "There were no external signs of trauma," he said.

But he admitted under questioning from Mulford that lack of such evidence does not mean the woman was not raped.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.