Rape claim is false, defense says


The attorney for a man accused of raping his estranged wife told a Howard Circuit Court jury yesterday that his client's charges resulted from "a vicious, evil and diabolical fabrication" by the woman.

County prosecutors say the man held his estranged wife at knifepoint and threatened to kill her if she didn't comply with his demands for sex on Nov. 29, 1993.

These differing stories were presented to a jury of seven men and five women during the first day in the trial of a 48-year-old Columbia man accused of attacking his estranged wife.

The man is charged with first-degree rape, second-degree rape, assault with intent to rape, a sexual offense, perverted sexual practices, assault, battery and a weapons violation.

He could be sentenced to life in prison if he is convicted of the charges. His trial will resume today before Judge Dennis Sweeney.

In a separate case, the man is charged with assault with intent to murder for attacking another man with a crowbar in a fight over the woman last January.

The defendant's name will not be published to protect the identify of the alleged victim. The couple has a divorce case pending in Circuit Court after nine years of marriage.

The incident occurred several hours after the 28-year-old woman dropped domestic-violence charges against her husband, who had moved out of the couple's home in Columbia's Owen Brown village.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Kate O'Donnell said the woman was going to bed, unaware that her husband was in the house.

"Much to her horror, she finds [the man] in her bedroom with a knife," Ms. O'Donnell said.

The man hit the woman, threatened her with the knife and forced to her to perform intercourse and a sex act, Ms. O'Donnell said.

Later, the man told the woman that they should reconcile and act as though the incident never happened, Ms. O'Donnell said.

But John Harris Sr., the man's attorney, told the jury that his client never attacked the woman.

Mr. Harris acknowledged that his client went to the woman's home -- to get clothing. He said the man hid in the house waiting for her to go to bed so he could leave without frightening her.

While waiting, the man overheard a telephone conversation the woman had with the man with whom she was having an affair, Mr. Harris said. Upset by the conversation, the man confronted the woman, the attorney said.

The attorney also admitted that the man had a knife, but said that he held it at his own wrist -- not at the woman. The woman later talked the man into giving her the knife, Mr. Harris said.

The man struck the woman in the face with the back of his hand after she admitted that she had carried on an affair with her employer for about nine months, Mr. Harris said.

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