PALM BEACH, FLA. — PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Police said today that they plan to recommend that prosecutors charge William Kennedy Smith in the reported rape of a woman at his family's estate here March 30.
A police spokesman would not say what the exact charges would be, but sources close to the case said yesterday that Smith would be charged with second-degree sexual battery -- a felony carrying a maximum prison term of 15 years. In Florida, sexual battery is the same charge as rape in other states.
Top police officials say they expect to present their recommendation to Palm Beach County prosecutors later this week, after a nearly six-week investigation.
Florida prosecutors have three options: decline to prosecute, put the case before a grand jury, or directly file criminal charges.
Second-degree sexual battery involves sexual intercourse without consent of a person 12 years or older through the use of physical force and violence that is not likely to cause serious personal injury. Under Florida sentencing guidelines, Smith, if convicted, could receive a sentence of probation or a fraction of the maximum term, since he has no prior criminal record.
Smith's uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and the senator's son, Patrick Kennedy, were with Smith at a Palm Beach bar before the incident and at the mansion that night.
A 29-year-old woman has accused Smith, 30, a fourth-year student at Georgetown University Medical School in Washington, D.C., of raping her at the Kennedy seaside compound after they met at the bar.