Rape victim testifies in civil suit

May 11, 1994|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Sun Staff Writer

A 20-year-old rape victim took the witness stand yesterday in her civil lawsuit against her attacker, whose sentencing last year by Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger drew demands for disciplinary action against the judge.

The Harford County woman is suing her former boss, Lawrence Allen Gillette, 45, of Towson, for damages on claims of assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress on Aug. 27, 1992.

The woman said she was confused and terrified when she awoke to find someone having sex with her. After realizing it was Gillette, she said, "I passed out, blacked out, because I do not remember."

The woman had met Gillette and three friends at Poor Richard's in Towson, became intoxicated and was walked to his nearby apartment where she was put in his bed fully dressed, according to testimony.

Before the jury of four women and two men was selected, Judge J. William Hinkel granted a motion by defense attorney Margaret A. Mead that Gillette's conviction last year for second-degree rape not be admitted in the civil case.

Judge Bollinger gave Gillette a probation before judgment sentence that will leave him with no criminal conviction once probation is completed. The judge also sentenced him to home detention and community service, ordered him to stay away from bars and young girls, and to pay for counseling for the victim.

Gillette testified in his criminal trial that the victim consented to sex.

Criticism of the judge focused on his comments at sentencing and in later interviews that were sympathetic to the defendant and critical of the woman and of Maryland's second-degree rape law -- which includes intoxicated victims.

"It is not necessary for the [jury] to know what another judge or jury did," Judge Hinkel said, "It is the responsibility of this jury to decide on the basis of this case whether the defendant is responsible to the plaintiff for damages."

The judge agreed to permit photographs of the victim lying backward on a bar with liquor being poured into her mouth that were taken by Gillette before Aug. 27. He denied Ms. Mead's motion to bar testimony about Gillette, a former theater manager, serving liquor at his home and taking underaged employees to bars, including the victim at age 17.

The plaintiff's attorney, Raymond M. Atkins Jr., told the jury this was "a very simple case: This man raped this woman."

Three friends who were with the victim and Gillette that night -- one of them 16 -- yesterday described the woman as unconscious when they put her in Gillette's bed.

One of them said Gillette "was kind of like a father to us" and they talked to him about boyfriends and other concerns.

When they left his home the next morning, the woman burst into tears and told them Gillette had raped her, they testified. She went to a hospital and the police were called.

Under cross-examination, the woman said she had no bruises or scratches and didn't fight or scream. At the hospital, she said, she lied that she'd only had three drinks because "I was afraid if I told how many I really had, I'd be in trouble with the law and my mother."

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