Accuser of Congressman Said to Recant Sex Counts : Courts: Lawyer says teen-ager was coerced into making charges against Rep. Mel Reynolds of Illinois. The claim interrupts hearing.
In a moment of courtroom drama, an attorney interrupted a routine hearing Monday in the sexual misconduct and obstruction-of-justice case against Rep. Mel Reynolds (D-Ill.) to say that the congressman’s accuser was recanting her allegations.
Lawyer Reginald Turner said that he represents Beverly Heard, the young woman who approached police, launching the investigation that led to Reynolds’ August indictment. Turner said his client wanted it known that the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and police had coached her to get incriminating statements from Reynolds during wiretapped phone conversations, and had threatened her when she wanted to withdraw her testimony.
State’s Atty. Jack O’Malley said his representatives hope to meet with Heard and her counsel to “assess the substance of the statement.”
The 42-year-old Reynolds, who won election in November to his second term, was indicted by a Cook County grand jury on charges that he was sexually involved with the underage campaign volunteer beginning in 1992 when she was 16 and continuing into 1993.
Reynolds also was charged with persuading Heard to sign an earlier retraction and to leave the state as the investigation against him proceeded last year.
Reynolds has denied any wrongdoing. So have two others caught up in the case--former Chicago Police Department spokesman Billy Davis, who was fired after being accused of leaking information to Reynolds about the probe, and Edward McIntyre, who drove Heard to Tennessee over the summer.
Heard “has never had sexual intercourse with the congressman,” Turner told reporters after he made his surprise presentation to the judge.
He said later in a telephone interview that Heard gave a 54-page statement under oath to a court reporter in December. He said she testified that she originally went to authorities with her claims because she was angry at Reynolds. He would not disclose why she was upset.
When she tried to back out of the case, Turner said, she was threatened with jail on perjury charges and was told that “people could lose their jobs” if she did not go forward.
Reynolds’ attorney, Edward Genson, said he has not seen the statement, but added: “It would seem, though, that that kind of development would make the state strongly consider dropping (the case). We would certainly ask them not to go further.”
“If she was believable enough to indict me, is she not believable now?” Reynolds asked Monday. “Was it about justice or was it about getting me?”
Times researcher John Beckham contributed to this story.