It seemed to go on forever. "She set me up," a dazed Marion Barry said again and again. "The bitch set me up."

They tried to read him his rights. They talked about a physical exam. They tried to explain how he would leave the hotel. But he kept saying it: "I'll be goddamned -- set me up like that. ... I mean, she set me up."

Not his arrest, not the fear of what would happen next, but the fact that his onetime lover Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore had double-crossed him was all Barry could talk about.

For many, it felt strangely personal.

"Black men rely on black women for support -- they're the last people you'd expect to set you up," said Berkley Silvers. The sales associate at the downtown Hecht's was one of many customers and employees who clustered around televisions in the store as the videotape ran.

"It gave me a bad feeling, to realize someone you thought you could count on, who you put your faith in, could do something like that," he said. "I had a relationship -- the person just up and left me and I had thought it was a real solid relationship. My feelings weren't taken into account; Barry's definitely weren't taken into account -- she was thinking about doing no time. Saving her own head. In a way, it felt similar."

But this was not the only betrayal: Depending on your point of view, the victim was the mayor himself, Effi and Christopher Barry, the citizens who elected Barry.

Donald Boone, a supervisor in the store's receiving department, who felt "awful for Effi Barry -- she had to go out among society and so does her son," said common sense should have kept the mayor from being so trustful.

"I'm a bachelor -- I know how women are," he said."I've been on my own since I was 17. You have to be real careful. ... Trust is a funny thing. It can hurt you. I don't think anyone tells the whole truth. You can be with a person 15, 20 years and not know everything about them. {Watching the videotape} made me put my wall up a little higher. His thing, you know, it could happen to anybody. Anybody."

One store security guard who asked to remain anonymous knew that was true. "It happened to me -- not a drug thing, but adultery. I expected this man to be my friend and he did this behind my back with my wife. He betrayed my trust. ... That last part {of the tape}, where he kept calling {Moore} that name, kept saying that nasty name. For him, it wasn't the act of being caught {that upset him most}, it was that she did it to him."

Some people -- particularly women -- saw it differently. The cliche of the seductive female betrayer -- Delilah, Mata Hari, smoky-voiced temptresses from countless Hollywood thrillers and pulp mysteries -- is misleading, they said, and only allows the culpable to avoid responsibility for their own mistakes.

"Being female, I think he had no right calling her a bitch. ... It wasn't like an emotional betrayal," said Jennie Lucas, a bartender at Rumors restaurant at 19th and L streets NW. "If there was any betrayal, it was to the people who supported him."

"{Barry's dazed comments} were the normal reaction of a man who's really made a fool of himself," said one bar patron, a businessman who requested anonymity. "Have I been betrayed? Oh, yes. But I knew it was my fault. ... Like Barry, I was arrogant. I thought it wouldn't happen to me."

That Barry was stunned by Moore's action did not surprise those who deal professionally with the anger of betrayal.

"It's a powerful emotion," said John Karr, a local lawyer who has experience with divorce cases.

"The human contract is so fragile -- we come to trust it because we have to trust it."

Divorce lawyer Mark Sandground called Moore's action "a star-spangled betrayal -- it ought to win the academy award." After watching years of such grim personal dramas, Sandground said, "I tell people you have to live with the recognition that it's better to trust your dog than trust your wife or your husband. Every year, I give a donation to the Humane Society -- that donation is for learning that one principle. It's not cynical -- it's realistic."

But for some viewers of the video, the true betrayal was not perpetrated by Moore.

"I feel totally betrayed by Marion Barry," said a 35-year-old woman who'd stopped with a co-worker for a drink at Samantha's on L Street. "I think he deserved to be watched, to be exposed. ... Betrayals in my own life were personal. {Barry's} was a bit more important because public officials are expected to be above reproach."

And, said private investigator Susan Giller, "Marion Barry should be the last one to complain about betrayal. He's betrayed his wife, he's betrayed the minority youth for whom he's supposed to be a role model, and he's betrayed every citizen of this city."