New witness comes forward in Smith case

October 27, 1991|By Newsday

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A new witness in the William Kennedy Smith rape case has testified under oath that the woman's account of events leading up to the March 30 incident at the Kennedy family estate is flawed.

In his Oct. 18 sworn deposition, Anthony Liott said he told prosecutors and defense attorneys that the woman telephoned him and then met him at a Palm Beach restaurant called Ta-Boo shortly before she met Mr. Smith at another local nightspot.

Nowhere in her five statements to authorities does the reported victim include the alleged meeting with Mr. Liott when she was asked to give an accounting of the places she went that night.

"I don't know the reason why she never brought it up," Mr. Liott said yesterday.

Mr. Smith's lawyers, prosecutors and the woman's attorneys all did not return telephone calls. Under a limited gag order imposed in the case, they are not permitted to comment on such matters as potential trial testimony.

The woman's apparent failure to report the meeting may give Mr. Smith's attorneys a critical opportunity to question her honesty in front of the jurors. Since this case, which does not rest on compelling physical evidence or corroborating testimony, pits the woman's charge against Mr. Smith's denial, issues of credibility could decide the verdict. "Every time a hole shows up in her story, her credibility is diminished," said one experienced prosecutor, who asked for anonymity.

In an interview yesterday, Mr. Liott said that he and the Florida woman have been friends for more than eight years. In the weeks before the incident, he said, the reported victim would come to visit him occasionally at a restaurant where he was working as a bartender.

During the evening of March 29, according to his account, the woman called him at work at about 11 p.m. and asked him to meet her after his restaurant closed. He agreed. And so sometime between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m. on March 30, Mr. Liott and an "out-of-town friend," whom he declined to identify, arrived at Ta-Boo, where the reported victim met them. He said the woman called him earlier in the week to let him know she would be in Palm Beach that night. "She was there for just 10 to 15 minutes," he said. "It was just chit-chat. I don't even think she had a drink."

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