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Smith Defense Allowed to Use Clothes as Evidence

<i> From Associated Press</i>

A judge ruled Wednesday that William Kennedy Smith’s attorneys can use as evidence his accuser’s dress and undergarments, which they claim will help prove his innocence.

The condition of the clothing, particularly the bra, will disprove the 30-year-old woman’s claim that Smith raped her on the grounds of his family’s estate, lead attorney Roy Black said.

The woman told police that Smith, a 31-year-old nephew of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), tackled her and used his chest to pin her down while pulling up her dress.

“The lack of damage to these items clearly proves Mr. Smith’s innocence,” Black said before Circuit Judge Mary Lupo denied a state motion to restrict use of the woman’s clothing.

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But Lupo ruled that defense attorneys cannot draw the jurors’ attention to the woman’s past abortions or out-of-wedlock child, and she rejected defense pleas that she bar TV coverage of jury selection, which begins today.

Lead prosecutor Moira Lasch urged the judge not to allow testimony and evidence that she said the defense wanted to use to raise questions about the woman’s morals.

The woman’s underpants, bra, panty hose and dress might be improperly interpreted as suggestive or implying that “someone who buys their underwear at Victoria’s Secret cannot be a victim of a sexual battery,” Lasch said.

But Black said that the condition of the clothing, not its style, is crucial.

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“The single most important piece of evidence in this case is on (the woman’s) bra,” Black said.

Florida rape case law was changed to restrict evidence about an alleged victim’s clothing after a rape suspect was acquitted in 1989 and jurors later cited the woman’s dress--a lace miniskirt and no underpants.

Black refused to answer questions from reporters about the bra.


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