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Rape Case Against Brown Dropped

Times Staff Writer

In a dramatic courtroom scene moments before final arguments were to begin Thursday, a judge dismissed rape and assault charges against former professional football star Jim Brown at the request of the prosecutor.

“I would not wish anyone to be forced to stand trial with the contradictory nature of the proof that came forth before this court,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Dino Fulgoni told Los Angeles Municipal Judge Candace D. Cooper, who was presiding over Brown’s preliminary hearing.

Spectators, who had expected to hear Fulgoni forcibly argue that Brown should stand trial, sat in stunned silence in the packed courtroom as Cooper, calling the prosecution’s surprise motion “well-founded,” agreed to dismiss the charges.

Brown, 49, who was clad in a black tuxedo, stood up and hugged his lawyer, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.

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“I’m glad to be an American,” the record-setting former Cleveland Brown fullback said as he left the courtroom, “because we have a chance in our system, if we are innocent, for the facts to come out.”

Brown, now an actor, had been charged with raping a 33-year-old woman in his Hollywood Hills home Feb. 19. The woman, a schoolteacher with whom he frequently played basketball and tennis during the last two years, said Brown slapped her repeatedly after she refused to lie beside him in his bedroom. Both Brown, 49, and his housemate, Carol Moses, 22, proceeded to molest her, the woman testified.

During a grand jury hearing, Moses, who was granted immunity, provided an alibi for Brown, saying that the alleged victim had actually tried to molest her. The woman was roughed up in an ensuing tussle, Moses testified.

Cochran, however, decided not to call Moses as a witness during the preliminary hearing this week. Rather, he lashed out at the credibility of the alleged victim and the paucity of corroborating evidence.

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Police officers who interviewed the woman on the night of the alleged attack testified that she claimed to have been raped by Brown. But under cross-examination during the preliminary hearing, the woman gave contradictory responses about whether Brown actually penetrated her. At one point, she said that she was able to resist his attempts through her physical and emotional willpower. Later, she testified that Brown partially penetrated her.

Cochran also raised questions about the woman’s actions after leaving Brown’s house and driving to her girlfriend’s apartment, where she called police.

While the woman claimed she had not argued with her girlfriend, Cochran elicited testimony from a neighbor and the building manager concerning a loud argument that occurred that night in the friend’s home.

Praising prosecutors for their open-mindedness, Cochran said the dismissal proves that “justice is alive and well in this county.”

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Fulgoni, who acknowledged that the dismissal leaves open the question of how the woman was injured, said there is virtually no chance the case will ever be refiled. The decision to drop the charges, he said, was made in conjunction with his superiors, including Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner.

When the charges were filed, Fulgoni explained, prosecutors were confident that the woman’s story would be supported by physical evidence found at Brown’s house.

“But the other evidence tends to negate there was a rape,” Fulgoni acknowledged.

Brown, who had sharply criticized police and prosecutors for filing the charges, refused direct comment Thursday about the district attorney’s action.

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