Prosecutor Who Was Criticized Over Minister's Rape Case Quits

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Fairfax County prosecutor who agreed to reduce charges against an accused rapist, after he already had pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, said yesterday that she is resigning.

Toni S. Fay, 45, an assistant prosecutor for 13 years, had a reputation in the Fairfax courthouse as a hard-nosed bargainer and an advocate for tough sentencing. But her handling of the case of Eugene A. Marriott Jr., a pastor at a large Prince George's County church, brought her criticism not only from the victim in the case but her own bosses.

Fay declined to comment yesterday beyond confirming her resignation, effective next Friday. Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said Fay "did a good job for 13 years. People thought I should have fired her. But one bad mistake in 13 years doesn't entitle you to get fired."

The victim, who was not identified because she is a sexual assault victim, said Fay can no longer be trusted to handle criminal cases.

"My confidence in her was compromised when she let me down the way she did," the victim said. "And on top of that, to say I was lying about knowing about the reduction of charges was wrong and was completely unprofessional."

Marriott, 43, was arrested outside a Best Western Motel in Fairfax City in January 2006 on charges of raping, sodomizing and beating the Alexandria woman, then 35, who had been his girlfriend in 2005. A witness in a nearby parking lot saw the attack, and police officers drew their weapons on Marriott as he was pulling his pants up, the woman at his feet.

In November, Marriott entered a plea to abduction with intent to defile -- carrying a 20-year minimum sentence -- and unlawful wounding, and Fay agreed to dismiss the rape and sodomy charges. But when Marriott later learned that the abduction charge would require him to register as a sex offender, he balked.

Marriott's attorney, Bobby B. Stafford, said he called Fay, and both lawyers acknowledged they had not known of the registration requirement. Fay agreed to reduce the abduction charge to simple abduction, with a range of zero to 10 years and no registration requirement.

The lawyers and Marriott quietly returned to court March 14 to revise Marriott's pleas. A transcript of that hearing shows that neither the lawyers nor Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Stanley P. Klein asked whether the victim had been consulted on the change in pleas. The victim was not there and said she had not been consulted. State law requires judges to ask prosecutors whether the victim has been consulted, but only if the victim makes a written request. The victim said she was never told to make such a request.

Two days later, the victim and her boyfriend, a Maryland police officer, appeared for Marriott's sentencing. Although the minister faced a maximum of 17 years, Klein sentenced him to 16 months.

The victim was stunned. When she later learned that Fay had agreed to reduce Marriott's charges, she was outraged. Fay said she had fully informed the victim of the situation. The victim, her boyfriend and the investigating officer, Detective Edward Vaughan, said Fay was mistaken.

After meeting with Fay and Vaughan, Fairfax Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh said he believed the victim and Vaughan. He said Fay's actions were "an embarrassment to our office and a disgrace." Morrogh then took Fay off all felony cases.

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