Five years after she was sexually assaulted, the woman is still morbidly fearful of men. She has given up hope for a happy marriage, lives on welfare and frequently undergoes psychotherapy. She tries to forget the painful memories of the incident. Another woman, whom prosecutors say was assaulted by the same man, appears vivacious and attractive, but her pleasant nature hides her emotional instability. She has turned to the Muslim faith to find control over her self-centered and impulsive ways. Although she was a victim, she at times believes that she is the one guilty of the crime.
Based on those phychiatric profiles, presented at a hearing in D. C. Superior Court yesterday, and other testimony about the mental health of the two women, Chief Judge Harold H. Greene must now decide whether the two women should be required to testify at the retrial of the man accused of assaulting them.
The issue to be resolved - apparently for the first time in the Superior Court - is whether the rape victims are "medically unavialable" to testify because of the emotional injuries they suffered as a result of the assaults.
One psychiatrist, who testified for the government, has told Greene that both women could not bear the stress of appearing in court again. Yesterday, the question became further complicated when a second psychiatrist, appointed by the court to examine the two women, said she felt that one of the victims could stand the strain of further testimony - but the woman who has turned to the Muslim faith could not.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Banoun has argued that the women would suffer great emotional trauma if they were made to appear in court again. Instead, Banoun wants the court to allow him to use transcripts of their earlier testimony.
Lawyers for the city's Public Defender Service however, argue that their client, Morris Joseph Warren, has the right to confront his accusers at his trial. The emotional effect to the assault on these women is no greater than for any other rape victim, those lawyers contend.
The assaults on the two women, which occured in 1972, are part of a series of attacks that became known as the "Green Vega" rape cases. Warren is charged with armed rape, armed kidnapping and other crimes in connection with assaults on four women, all of whom were lured into a Green Vega automobile, raped and assaulted. The incidents occurred between June 1972 and January 1973, prosecutors said.
Warren was convicted of the charges in 1973, but the D.C. Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in December 1976 because, the appeals court said, Warren should have been tried separately, and not with another of the so-called "Green Vega" defendants.
Since them, one of the four women has died of a drug overdose and another cannot be found, Banoun has said. Last December, Banoun said to require the two other women to testify againwould "cause extreme and serious damage to their health."
At that time, Dr. Leon Yochelson, a Washington psychiatrist, testified for the government that he felt the twowomen should not be required to appear again in court. In a report to the court, Yochelson said that both women have found 'only the mildest of relied' and would suffer further emotional injury if hey had to testify again.
Yesterday, however, Dr. Sheila H. Gray, another Washington psychiatrist, said she found no medical reason to excuse one woman from testifying, because her reaction would be no different than that of other rape victims who appear in court. Some people, like this woman, achieve a "therapeutic benefit" from airing their problems before an impartial body like a jury, Gray said.
Since the woman is more vulnerable than the average witness, Gray said she would suggest that the court allow the woman's psychotherapist to come with her to the courthouse when she testifies.
The second woman, however, would rather go to jail than testify again, Gray said. She testified yesterday that she wanted to "warn" Greene that the woman "might become psychotic right before his eyes" if she were made to testify.
Because of the woman's current mental condition, Gray said, her reaction to another appearance in court would amount to greater suffering than that experienced by other rape victims.
Greene took the case under advisement at the close of yesterday's hearing.