Testimony Nears End In Hart Trial

Defense Hammers At Woman's Credibility

June 30, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

Defense lawyers in the Gary Hart rape trial continued Friday trying to convince jurors that the alleged victim is an unreliable witness because of a mental disorder that a psychiatrist testified could causeher fantasize about being raped.

With the trial of the prominent real estate broker entering its third week tomorrow, jurors heard from a parade of defense witnesses ranging from Hart's friends to a Fairfax County police officer who testified that the woman reported beingsexually assaulted nearly 10 years ago in Virginia.

Testimony is expected to end by Tuesday.

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

On Friday, Hart's lawyers tried to poke holes in the stories of the woman and a key prosecution witness, jumping from testimony about a boat trip to an altercation in a bowling alley to psychiatric analysis of the woman.

Dr. Melvin Prosen, a psychiatrist at Sheppard-Pratt, a private psychiatric hospital in Baltimore, testified that he believed the woman suffersfrom a border-line personality disorder that causes her to have delusions and a misperception of reality.

Prosen, a paid expert witness for the defense, reviewed psychological records of the victim stemming from a two-week stay in psychiatric institute to her visits with three Annapolis psychiatrists.

The doctor said the disorder can manifest itself when a woman is in a faltering relationship.

"They tend to recall and think of events in terms of what someone else has done rather than what they brought to the situation," Prosen said. "They have an uncanny knack -- a self-fulfilling prophecy -- that they are going to be abused or mistreated.

"They have an inability to see men as someone you can trust and rely on. . . . They see events in the way they want to see events instead of the way they actually happened."

But under cross examination from Assistant State's AttorneyWilliam C. Mulford II, Prosen acknowledged that there is no way he can say whether the woman was raped.

"I still think it's entirely possible that (a fantasy about rape) could happen," he said.

"But you cannot say that a person with a border-line personality disorder cannot be raped?" Mulford said.

"Correct," Prosen answered.

"That is because rape is a legal term and not a medical term," Mulford said.

Also testifying Friday was Mae Atkinson, a longtime friend andbusiness associate of Hart's. She testified that a key prosecution witness, Lee Mohen, had called her shortly after resigning his job in Hart's real estate office, threatening to close down Hart's business.

Mohen testified last week that Hart told him two days after the alleged rape that sex he had engaged in with the woman could could be considered rape.

Hart's lawyers say Mohen waited five months to bring that story to police and was acting out of spite because he hatedHart.

Atkinson said Mohen called her and tried to get her to leave the company. "He said, 'I will never talk to (Hart) again in my life. If he wants to go to war with me, I will put the hurt on him.' Those were his exact words."

Atkinson said that on March 6 during a bowling tournament, Mohen unexpectedly showed up and nearly got into afight with Hart. She testified that Mohen stood up at one of the lanes and pounded his fist into his hand and said, "Let's go."

"His demeanor changed," Atkinson said. "He was just crazy, wild. I even said to someone, 'He needs medicine or something.'"

She said Hart andMohen were face to face when she slapped Mohen twice, knocking him to the floor. "I was shaken up by this," she said. "It wasn't the proudest moment in my life."

Mohen has testified that Hart started thealtercation by making racial insults, that it was Hart ponding his fist into his hand and that he called police because he was scared Hart would come after him.

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.