The fate of a prominent Anne Arundel County Realtor ma well depend on whether a six man, six woman jury believes his accuser was a frightened woman too embarrassed to immediately report an alleged rape, or a mentally disturbed woman living in a fantasy world.
Opening arguments were presented yesterday before Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge H. Chester Goudy in the alleged acquaintance rape trial of real estate broker Gary Hart.
Hart, 40, is charged with first- and second-degree rape, assault and battery, and false imprisonment of a 34-year-old Eastport woman last October. The trial is to continue today.
After a lengthy jury selection and several delays, Hart's trial began with attorneys painting two different pictures of the woman.
Assistant State's Attorney William C. Mulford 2nd told the jury that Hart's attorneys would attempt to put the woman on trial. But Mulford said the jurors had to remember the trial was not about the woman versus Hart, but the state of Maryland versus Hart.
"I want you to realize she is under a lot of pressure," Mulford said. "She may be embarrassed. I'm not sure how she'll react on the witness stand."
But one of Hart's attorney's, Arnold Weiner, told the jury to watch the woman as she testifies.
"Remember, you can't judge a package by its wrapping," Weiner said. "The wrapping is a very beautiful woman who presents herself as vulnerable. Beneath that wrapping is a seriously disturbed human being."
Mulford told jurors he would present a case showing that in the morning of Oct. 16 the woman agreed to go out on a date with Hart, whom she had known casually. Because of a flood in her apartment, the woman agreed to sleep over at Hart's home on the sofa that night, Mulford said.
According to the prosecution's version, after they returned from the date to Hart's home, Hart made advances to the woman. She asked him to stop but he continued. Eventually, Mulford said, Hart threw her onto the floor, held her by her neck, and forcibly raped her, all the while yelling and calling her by his ex-wife's name.
Hart has been twice charged, but never convicted, of abusive behavior toward his estranged wife.
However, Weiner said his case will show that Hart and the woman had been dating for several months and had consenting intercourse during the early morning hours of Oct. 17. Weiner said the woman became upset with Hart after he refused to take her with him on a trip to Florida, and then reported the rape.
Describing the woman as having a borderline personality disorder, Weiner said evidence would be shown proving it was in her nature to create the alleged rape.
Weiner said the woman had told several people she had been raped by an undercover narcotics agent as a 16-year-old in Detroit. Weiner said the woman told others that she shot the officer, was put on trial, and acquitted, although no record of such a crime could be found in Detroit.
"All of that is a fantasy of that poor, sick woman's mind," Weiner said.