Aron spoke of assault from jail Psychiatrist says she was patient 4 years before telling of abuse


As Ruthann Aron sat in the Montgomery County jail after her arrest in June, she revealed that she had been sexually abused as a child by her father, her psychiatrist testified.

Dr. Alan Brody said yesterday in a Rockville courtroom that he was not surprised Aron had never told him about being assaulted during the four years she was his patient.

"Sexual abuse is a very difficult thing to talk about, even with your psychiatrist," said Brody, who treated Aron from 1989 to 1993. "It was almost as if the window had been open here. It was almost as if she wanted to come clean."

In her lawyer's opening statement a week ago, Barry Helfand told the jury his client had been abused by her father for a decade, starting when she was 6.

Last week and again yesterday, Aron's team sought to convince the jury that the alleged abuse was one of the factors that caused its client to crack.

Defense lawyers don't dispute that Aron, 55, hired a hit man in a thwarted attempt to kill her husband, Dr. Barry Aron, and lawyer Arthur Kahn. But they hope to prove through the testimony of nine doctors and business and personal contacts that she suffered from mental illness and was incapable of knowing right from wrong.

Brody, who practices in Potomac, testified that Aron suffered from a "rather significant" personality disorder that led to extremes in emotions, suspicions and anxiety.

He said that although he counseled against it, Aron stopped going to him in 1993 because she feared disclosure of treatment would harm her campaign for the U.S. Senate. She lost the 1994 Republican primary to William E. Brock.

Aron told Brody on the third or fourth of his 20 visits to the jail that she had been sexually abused as a child, he said.

In hindsight, Brody said, Aron had spoken of sexual harassment in the workplace and an encounter with a sexually abusive lawyer that should have been "red flags" to him during several discussions in therapy.

On Wednesday or Thursday, Aron's mother, Frieda Singer, will testify about her family's relationships. After her parents divorced, Aron's father was killed by a handyman during a robbery at his home in upstate New York.

In the seventh day of testimony yesterday, friends and acquaintances of Aron told the jury that the former Potomac businesswoman was suspicious, difficult and demanding.

Gail Pasternack, a certified public accountant in Washington, said Aron insisted on having her business records kept "under lock and key" in the attic of Pasternack's home.

Pasternack, a 20-year friend of Aron's and treasurer of her Senate campaign, said Aron also was unwilling to talk extensively on the car phone for fear of others listening in. Aron also insisted that her phone number be kept out of Pasternack's Rolodex.

A Gaithersburg lawyer, Martha Handman, testified that in April she attended a Montgomery County Bar Association seminar on mediation attended by Aron.

During role playing, Aron appeared to be unaware that her intense behavior was "turning people off," she said.

"I couldn't believe she wanted to be a mediator. She was so obnoxious, so abrasive," Handman said. "I thought she was crazy."

Pub Date: 3/10/98

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