At first, they say, they kept silent, fearing no one would believe their stories.
Years later, when allegations against William Kennedy Smith emerged, the women say they felt a need to disclose their secrets, both to help the Florida woman who had accused Smith of rape and to prevent future acquaintance rapes.
The three well-educated and upper-middle-class women, who apparently do not know each other, recently gave statements to Palm Beach, Fla., police, accusing Smith of attacking them. One says she was raped. The other two say Smith attempted to rape them.
A 26-year-old medical student in New Jersey says Smith raped her following a 1988 picnic in Washington, where they both were students at Georgetown University.
Smith offered to take her home, but instead took her to his Georgetown carriage house, where the alleged rape occurred.
The woman, who acknowledges that she was drunk at the time, did not report the incident to authorities. "I had been advised by ++ a lawyer at the time not to press charges," the medical student told Palm Beach authorities. "The Kennedys, you know . . . you'll never win."
She decided to tell her story after being notified by Palm Beach police. "If he gets away with it, then the message is going to be clear that this is OK," she says in the statement.
A second former Georgetown medical student, now a resident in rehabilitation medicine at a large Alabama hospital, says Smith tackled her and held her down while making sexual advances at his home after a party at another student's house.
The woman, who was recently married, says she talked Smith into releasing her by using persuasion techniques she learned in dealing with mentally ill or hostile patients.
"There weren't any witnesses, and I felt that I wouldn't be believed," she explains, in saying why she did not report the attack at the time it occurred in 1988.
The third woman grew up in Rockland County, N.Y., the daughter of a successful physician in Manhattan. She alleges Smith attacked her in 1983.
The woman, 27, says she was a girlfriend of Smith's cousin Matthew Maxwell Kennedy, whom she met at prep school.