Former police captain accused of rape

January 31, 1995|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Sun Staff Writer

A 37-year-old Anne Arundel County police dispatcher told a federal jury yesterday that a former department captain raped her at the police trainning academy nine years ago, but she was too traumatized to report the incident until she attended a rape seminar in 1990.

"I realized then that it doesn't have to be a total stranger jumping out of the bushes for it to be rape," the woman testified in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. "Then I found my husband's criminal digest on the dining room table and I started reading about the different degrees of rape and I couldn't believe what he had done to me."

She is suing Donald F. Ward, the former captain, for $10 million.

Mr. Ward retired from the department in April 1992 after the woman's husband reported the incident and three other women filed departmental complaints of sexual misconduct against him. He was never charged criminally in any of the incidents.

Mr. Ward's lawyer, Frederick P. Charleston of Baltimore, agreed that his client had sex with the woman Jan. 10, 1986, in the ladies room of the police training academy in Davidsonville, but said it was consensual.

The woman is lying about the rape and her repressed memory because the three-year statue of limitations had expired, he said in his opening statement.

"In order for her to have a valid case to file beyond the time limit, she has to have an excuse," he said. "She has to say that because she can't win the case."

Mr. Charleston said the woman's job as a police dispatcher, which includes taking calls from rape victims, gave her plenty of opportunities before 1990 to recall the incident.

"She was 29 years old at the time," he said. "She was an adult, not some child who had repressed those memories and then after some counseling remembers."

The woman testified that she was working an early shift in the radio room at headquarters when Mr. Ward, who was commander of the trainning academy, stopped her in the hallway and asked why she had withdrawn her application for a job as a police officer. He asked her to reconsider and come to the academy that night, a Friday, to talk to him about it.

The woman said she felt she owed Mr. Ward an explanation and agreed to go to the academy out of respect for his rank and authority.

When she arrived, she and the captain were the only ones in the building. They talked for a while in his office and both had a glass of liquor that she said Mr. Ward kept in his desk. When she went to the ladies room, he followed. And when she turned around, she saw that he was wearing only his underwear, she testified.

"He pinned me on the ceramic tile floor and raped me," she said. "I couldn't get up, he was too heavy."

Afterward, he left her on the floor and she drove 26 miles home to her husband and small daughter. She testified that because she and her husband at the time, a state trooper, had a rule that she did not talk to him while he was getting ready for work, she did not tell him of the incident.

But Mr. Charleston said the woman followed Mr. Ward into the men's room. When she complained that it was cold, they went into the ladies room where it was warmer and had sex.

Mr. Charleston told the jury that the woman did not tell her husband where she was going that night and said it was odd that she would feel such respect and drive such a long distance on a Friday night just to discuss a job.

He said his client was not responsible for hiring new officers. When Mr. Ward had seen her earlier in the day, she was distraught over her marriage. He comforted her and said if she needed to talk, she could come to the academy any time.

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