Woman who accused Smith in Fla. rape case to identify herself on 'Primetime live'

December 19, 1991|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

The woman who accused William Kennedy Smith of raping her last March will allow herself to be identified and her face shown during an interview tonight with Diane Sawyer on ABC's "Primetime Live."

"The woman will discuss the events of the past month and how they have affected her life," Rena Terracuso, a spokeswoman for the show, said yesterday. She declined to discuss specifics about the content of the interview, but said it would be the first segment on tonight's show (10 p.m., Channel 13).

Because the interview was taped Tuesday in Palm Beach, Fla., and not taken to New York for editing until yesterday, sources at ABC News said that few had seen it or heard about its contents as of yesterday afternoon. No portions of the interview had yet been offered to "World News Tonight," which sometimes airs portions of stories scheduled to air on "Primetime Live."

Sawyer got the interview through persistence, Terracuso said. During the trial, Sawyer kept in contact with the woman's attorney, David Roth. Her efforts were rewarded when the woman agreed to meet with Sawyer in Palm Beach Saturday and decided to tape the interview Tuesday, according to Terracuso

Roth said that his client "received absolutely no compensation" for the interview with ABC, but that she had been offered as much as $500,000 by other unnamed news organizations for her story.

While ABC News said the competition for the interview was fierce and included all major news organizations, one competitor disagreed.

"I'm sure we had a request for an interview in, but '60 Minutes' didn't go after her, and that's the big gun," said Donna Dees, a spokeswoman for CBS News. "She had all she had to say in the testimony she gave at the trial."

CNN made several requests for an interview, a spokeswoman for the cable network said. NBC News did not return phone calls about its pursuit of the interview.

This is the second time in recent months that Sawyer has made headlines with an interview. In August, she flew into Moscow during the coup attempt there and walked out with a Boris Yeltsin TV exclusive. Sawyer's growing prominence has been cited as one reason "Primetime Live" co-host Sam Donaldson reportedly wants off the show.

Smith was acquitted of the rape charges last week by a Florida jury. The identity of his 30-year-old accuser has been an issue the past nine months, as some news organizations -- notably NBC News and the New York Times -- did identify her while most did not.

During live coverage of the trial, cable networks blocked out the woman's face and blipped her name whenever it was mentioned, though on a few occasions these masking methods briefly failed.

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.