Accuser in Smith case hopes to aid victims Bowman to rape victims: "You can survive."

December 20, 1991|By Boston Globe

The woman who accused William Kennedy Smith of rape says she revealed her identity to encourage other women to report sexual assaults.

"I'm terrified that victims everywhere have seen my case and potential victims who have seen my case will not report because of what's happened to me," Patricia Bowman told a national TV audience last night a week after Smith was found not guilty of charges he raped her at his family's Palm Beach estate on Easter weekend.

The real lesson, she told women who have been raped, is that "you can survive."

"It's an honor to say that I am Patricia Bowman," the 30-year-old woman told interviewer Diane Sawyer on ABC's "Prime Time Live."

"I'm not a blue blob," added Bowman, whose face was covered with a blue-gray dot to protect her identity during her televised testimony at the trial of Smith, the nephew of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. "I'm a person . . . I'm a human being. I have nothing to be ashamed of."

Bowman said she had had nightmares each night since the alleged assault and was still "terribly afraid" of him.

When she heard a jury declare Smith "not guilty," Bowman XTC added, she was so shocked that she collapsed. Her attorneys, she said, "were helping me get up off the floor."

The jury verdict "doesn't mean I'm not a victim of rape," she said.

"The police believed me. The prosecutor believed me. The state attorney believed me. There are millions of people who believe me. I believe me," she said.

Smith probably was among the millions of Americans watching Bowman. But he decided beforehand not to comment, said Barbara Gamarekian, a Kennedy family spokeswoman.

Bowman said she was disgusted by the public relations campaign that Gamarekian and others had orchestrated on Smith's behalf before the trial, a move designed to improve the defendant's public image.

"Each and every morning, each and every day at noon, each and every day from five to seven, and in each and every newspaper, I had to see the face of the man who raped me," she said. "That's hard. Then I had to see the face of the man who raped me change into a man with a puppy, a man kissing schoolchildren.

"This is a rape case. This isn't a political campaign."

As for her difficulty recalling what happened Easter weekend, she said that "if I was going to contrive a testimony, don't you think I would have filled in the memory lapses?"

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