Officer takes stand, denies rape charge

Jones is accused of intimidating female suspect, forcing her to have sex at station house

January 20, 2007|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,Sun reporter

Making his first public statements about the case against him, the Baltimore police officer on trial for rape took the witness stand yesterday and told jurors that "nothing sexual happened" during what he said was a routine nighttime arrest of a 22-year-old woman.

"I never had sexual intercourse with that woman," Jemini Jones said, looking directly at the mostly female jury that is scheduled to begin deliberating Monday. "The whole evening was strictly professional."

The woman, now 23, has testified that on Dec. 27, 2005, inside a Southwest Baltimore police station house, Jones coerced her into having sex with him to avoid drug charges. The Sun is not naming her because she is an alleged victim of a sex crime.

The woman also testified that Jones had thrown bags of what looked to be crack cocaine on his desk and threatened to charge her with possessing them in addition to the marijuana she admitted was hers.

During the hourlong direct examination by his defense attorney, Janice L. Bledsoe, Jones denied the accusation of intimidating the woman with false evidence.

"That situation never happened," he told jurors, maintaining eye contact with them.

Asked by Bledsoe to explain why he had about 40 condoms in his desk drawer, Jones said they'd been given to him as a joke because, at age 29, he is a father of five. A friend - a city health department employee, Jones said - had stopped by the station with the gag gift.

He said the condoms were taped to a piece of cardboard that a city sex crime investigator who had searched the drawer referred to during the trial as a "false back."

The investigator, Baltimore Detective Robert Elkner, testified that the woman told police she saw Jones retrieve the condom that she said he used with her from that same desk drawer.

Jones testified that the woman may have seen the condoms when he opened the drawer to stow his gun in it while she was at the station.

Assistant State's Attorney JoAnn Stanton cross-examined Jones for just over an hour but did not ask him a question about the condoms or the woman's allegations about sex or false evidence.

Instead, Stanton focused on Jones' version of events that night, essentially allowing him to tell it to jurors a second time.

Undisputed is how the situation began: The alleged victim and her younger female friend were taken to the station in handcuffs because Jones' partners spotted the pair in a parked car with what appeared to be a marijuana-filled cigar, called a blunt.

The similarities between the woman's story and Jones' end there.

At the station, Jones testified, the younger woman was crying and appeared frightened. As a way to avoid being taken to jail, Jones testified, the older woman told him she had some information about a drug dealer.

Her information, Jones said, was relevant to an investigation he said he had recently begun.

Jones testified that he programmed the woman's cell phone number into his own and had worked out an arrangement where they would keep in touch about the future activity of the dealer.

The woman, on the other hand, testified that Jones programmed her number and told her that it was so he could find her if she made any sexual allegations.

During the prosecution's case, an FBI crime analyst testified that he found traces of silicone gel, commonly found in condoms, inside the woman's body and inside her blue jeans. Yesterday, testifying for the defense, a Johns Hopkins University chemistry professor said he did not reach that conclusion after reviewing the FBI's report.

As defense witnesses testified, jurors could fix their eyes on the small, armless office chair that the woman claimed she sat on as she and Jones had sex. It was brought into court yesterday for the first time, at the defense's request.

On Monday, Stanton and Bledsoe are to give their closing arguments before the jury begins deliberating. Jones is charged with rape, misconduct and other counts.

This is one of several current rape cases involving city police officers.

Two officers who worked with Jones, Brian Shaffer and Steven Hatley, are charged with helping Jones orchestrate the Dec. 27 encounter.

Jones also is charged in a separate rape case, in which a woman is accusing him of coercing her to have sex with him to avoid arrest.

The woman said Jones came to search her boyfriend's apartment in October 2005, found her alone there and sexually assaulted her. Police and prosecutors became aware of that allegation after charging Jones in the first case.

In a case from the Southeastern District, Detective William D. Welch, 40, is accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl he was interviewing in July at that station house. He is scheduled for trial in March.

julie.bykowicz@baltsun.com

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