Rape, Battery Charges Filed Against Kennedy Nephew
William Kennedy Smith was charged Thursday with rape and battery of a 29-year-old woman, who told police she wondered why Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Smith’s uncle, and others in the Kennedy family mansion here had not responded to her screams.
The felony and misdemeanor charges, filed by Palm Beach County State Atty. David H. Bludworth, included graphic details of the alleged crime on March 30, such as the woman’s recollection that Smith told her: “Stop it, bitch” as she tried to fight him off.
Later, she said, she tried to hide from Smith in the mansion but he found her. The woman described him as being “ferocious” and herself as “petrified.”
Smith, who has denied the woman’s allegations as “a damnable lie,” has agreed to surrender to police here next week, a Palm Beach police spokesman said.
The woman, who police said showed no deception on polygraph and computer voice stress analysis tests--which cannot be used in court as evidence--told detectives that she had seen Kennedy and his son Patrick, 24, twice in the mansion and on the grounds before Smith attacked her.
The 11 occupants of the oceanfront estate on Easter weekend, including Kennedy and his son, a Rhode Island legislator, have told police that they heard no disturbance when the attack allegedly took place at 4 a.m. near the swimming pool just below some bedroom windows.
Smith, 30, a Georgetown University fourth-year medical student, told reporters outside his lawyers’ Washington office Thursday that he was “very confident that when this thing is resolved that I’ll be able to stand by my original statement . . . that I didn’t commit an offense of any kind.”
He added that he was “very sad about the events today and I’m worried about my family and obviously my future, my friends.”
The woman, in a statement issued by her attorney, David Roth, said: “I feel a profound sense of relief and vindication.”
Kennedy, in a statement, expressed his “great affection and respect for Willie,” adding: “I have every confidence that when all the facts are known about this case, Willie will be found innocent.”
Paul Donovan, Kennedy’s spokesman, added that “Sen. Kennedy heard absolutely no screams that night.”
Smith was charged with second-degree sexual battery, a felony equivalent in other states to a rape involving physical force but not likely to cause serious personal injury. Conviction can result in punishment of up to 15 years in prison, but Florida sentencing guidelines limit the sentence to four years for first-time offenders. Smith was also charged with battery, a misdemeanor punishable with up to one year in jail.
Bludworth said police are investigating “other matters related to this case,” presumably a reference to an inquiry into why Kennedy and Smith left town after the Easter weekend without talking to police. Kennedy subsequently was questioned, but Smith has declined to be interviewed by police.
William Barry, a Kennedy family friend and former FBI agent who stayed at the mansion that weekend, talked with the police officers who came to the mansion on March 31. Police said Barry led them to believe that Kennedy and Smith had already left, although they had not. Barry has called the incident a “misunderstanding.”
In a related action, Bludworth filed two misdemeanor charges against Florida-based Globe Communications Corp. for publishing in its supermarket tabloid the victim’s name and other identifying details. The state attorney did not charge NBC, the New York Times or other media outlets that followed the Globe in identifying the woman.
Bludworth noted that the Globe is based in the state, but said the matter is still open and that he will vigorously prosecute the Florida law against identifying rape victims.
The nine-page probable-cause warrant, completed by Detective Christine E. Rigolo, set out the now-familiar facts of how the alleged victim met Smith after midnight on March 30 and talked and danced with him at the Au Bar, a trendy nightspot near the Kennedy estate.
Smith introduced her to Sen. Kennedy and Patrick Kennedy, and after the bar closed asked her for a ride to the mansion because his uncle and cousin had already left. At the estate, she said, she kissed him good night, but then accepted his invitation to see the home and take a walk down to the beach.
As they entered the pantry, she told police, Kennedy and Patrick left that room and walked into the adjoining dining room. Shortly after that, as she and Smith headed for a stairway that led to the beach, “the victim states that they again observed Sen. Kennedy and Patrick on the property, but that no words were exchanged,” the police affidavit said.
“The victim states that she and Smith talked for a while on the beach and exchanged some kisses, but the victim states that she felt that there were no sexual overtures,” the affidavit said. She reported that she declined Smith’s invitation to go swimming and at no time removed her clothing or entered the water.
Then Smith removed his shirt and began unfastening his pants to go swimming, she told police. “She became uncomfortable and turned away” and then called out that she was going to leave.
As she was nearing the top of the stairs from the beach, her lower right leg was grabbed, the affidavit said. About 10 hours later, when she was making the report to police, “there was some visible bruising to her lower right leg, just above the ankle,” the report noted.
She said she broke free from Smith’s grasp and began running across the estate lawn toward the pool area, but that he tackled her from behind. He then forced her onto her back and held her down with his body weight and chest.
The police affidavit described the victim as 5 feet, 6 inches tall and 130 pounds, while Smith is approximately 6 feet and weighs 180 pounds. The woman said she tried to get up, but that “Smith slammed her back to the ground.”
She told police that Smith then pulled her clothes up and aside and raped her, and that when she tried to stop him from completing the sex act, he told her to “stop it, bitch,” the affidavit said.
“The victim stated that she screamed and told him ‘no’ and to stop several times,” the affidavit said. “The victim said that she remembers hearing herself screaming and wondering why no one in the house would come out and help her, especially since she knew that Sen. Kennedy was in the house.”
The woman said she managed to get away and ran into the house looking for a way out of the estate. Trying to hide from Smith, she found a phone and called Anne Mercer, a friend who had been with her at Au Bar, told her she had been raped and asked that she come to the estate for her, the affidavit said.
Before Mercer and her boyfriend, Chuck Desiderio, reached the estate, the affidavit said, Smith found the woman and after a heated conversation denied that he had raped her.
She said that Smith appeared “very composed and sure of himself” and said that no one would believe her anyway.
She said that she then tried to drive away in her car but was shaking too badly to manage it, and that Mercer and Desiderio arrived. Mercer told police the woman appeared to be in shock and “roughed up.”
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