A 13-year-old girl who said she was gang-raped in the basement of an East Baltimore rowhouse is too psychologically crippled to testify at trial, prosecutors said yesterday as they dismissed charges against six teen-agers.
Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy said the girl is unable to testify, leaving prosecutors with no viable case against the teen-agers, who had been charged as adults with rape.
"The victim is unable to provide any specifics once you get to questioning her about what happened in the basement. There is a psychological blockage there," Ms. Jessamy said. "We do not know what the reason is for the blockage."
While charges could legally be reinstated if the girl later is able to testify, Ms. Jessamy said such a turn is unlikely.
The news was welcomed by defense lawyers in the case.
John M. Hassett, who represented 14-year-old William Arthur Davis in the case, said: "From day one, this kid has been saying he did not do it, but more importantly to the other defendants in the case, that a rape did not occur." Mr. Hassett said the charges have left emotional scars on his client, who he described as withdrawn and emotionally wracked since being charged.
Curt Anderson, who represented 16-year-old Marvin Blocker, said he believed the girl fabricated the story "to protect herself." He said he hoped the girl will overcome her psychological problems through further counseling.
Prosecutors also dismissed charges against Carl Eugene Malloy, and Corey Darrell Williams, Pepe Joseph Bennett and Tyus Johnson, all 14. Citing confidentiality laws, Ms. Jessamy would not discuss the status of the case against a seventh suspect, a 13-year-old who was charged as a juvenile.
The girl had told police that she was accosted Jan. 26 by a boy outside a store in the 1200 block of N. Eden St. in the Madison Square neighborhood of East Baltimore. She said that boy and two others led her by the arm up the block and that once inside the basement, one of the boys removed her clothes, "tapped" her on the side of the head with a handgun, then raped her.
The girl said she was raped by five other boys, a police detective testified at a court hearing last month. A man who lives upstairs in the house went into the basement and saw two boys and the girl running toward the back door. The girl told the man she'd been raped.
Detective Shelia Savaliski testified last month that one of the youths told her that he was present when two other youths and the boy charged as a juvenile had sex with the girl. Another youth told police that he and the girl went into the basement alone and had sex, the detective testified.
The girl's hospital examination revealed no cuts or bruises or other signs of trauma to her body. Ms. Jessamy termed those medical tests as "inconclusive" in determining whether the girl had been raped.
The prosecutor said evidence from the scene, where police found a number of condoms, suggested to her that "there was some kind of sexual contact," but without the girl's testimony prosecutors could not determine which, if any, charges to pursue.
Cindy Bailey, clinical director at the Sexual Assault Domestic Violence Center in Towson, said the girl's failure to testify was consistent with the experiences of most rape victims. She said sexual assault victims often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and have difficulty reliving the attack.
She said the "whole legal process can function as a trigger" for victims to break down.