Accuser supported in rape trial

3 city investigators corroborate key details of woman's sex-for-freedom coercion story

January 18, 2007|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,sun reporter

Three Baltimore sex crimes investigators testified yesterday in the rape trial of a city officer and corroborated several key details of the accuser's story.

Officer Jemini Jones, 29, is accused of coercing a woman to have sex in exchange for freedom from drug charges, an encounter she says took place Dec. 27, 2005, at the Southwestern District police station house.

The woman and her younger female friend were taken in handcuffs to the station after Jones and two other officers caught them in a parked car with a marijuana-filled cigar known as a blunt.

Trials for two other officers are scheduled to follow Jones' trial. They are charged with rape and are accused of helping to orchestrate the encounter between Jones and the woman.

Jones' defense attorney, Janice L. Bledsoe, said in her opening statement last week that the 23-year-old woman's accusations are untrue. The Sun is not naming her because she is the alleged victim of a sex crime.

In court yesterday, Detectives Robert Elkner and John Dennison testified that when they searched Jones' desk, they found 40 condoms in the same desk drawer where the woman said she saw Jones retrieve one.

One condom was loose in the front of the drawer, Elkner testified, while the others were hidden behind a piece of cardboard that served as a "false back."

The detectives also testified that a search of Jones' cell phone showed that the woman's name and phone number were stored on it, confirming that part of her statement to police. The woman testified earlier that Jones told her he was storing her number so that he could find her if she reported him.

The detectives' testimony yesterday also cleared up what had seemed to be a major discrepancy in the woman's story: She said that after the alleged rape, the officers returned the blunt they had seized from her. But the officers sent a blunt to the evidence unit after her arrest. (She was not jailed the night of the alleged rape; however, the three officers did write a statement of probable cause, charging her with marijuana possession.)

An analysis of the blunt submitted as evidence showed the DNA on it matched "an unknown male," Dennison testified. It did not match the DNA of either of the two men who were with the alleged rape victim when she was arrested, Dennison testified.

The woman's rape allegation spawned a wider investigation into the Southwestern District's flex squad. The three officers accused in the rape -- Jones, Steven Hatley and Brian Shaffer -- were members of the squad, which often investigated drug crimes.

That squad was disbanded when the woman reported she had been raped, but police internal affairs is investigating the squad's activities, including accusations of planting evidence, stealing cell phones and possessing drugs.

The rape trial has steered away from those other allegations. However, when asked how he knew which desk belonged to Jones, Elkner testified there was a bag of drugs with Jones' name on it hanging on the wall above.

Assistant State's Attorney JoAnn Stanton is expected today to call at least one internal investigator as a witness.

julie.bykowicz@baltsun.com

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