The long-delayed trial of former District personnel director George R. Harrod, indicted two years ago for allegedly assaulting a woman staff aide who claimed she was trying to end a sexual relationship with him, began yesterday in D.C. Superior Court.
The only witness to take the stand was Dolly Honablew, 30, who was a secretary in Harrod's office. She testified for more than three hours about her relationship with Harrod, who was one of former mayor Walter Washington's top aides, claiming he choked and hit her in August 1978, when she attempted to end their relationship.
Harrod, 58, who was indicted in April 1979, and worked briefly in the administration of Mayor Marion Barry before retiring, has denied assaulting Honablew and having sexual relations with her.
According to Honablew's testimony yesterday, she ran errands for Harrod with a city-owned car and on one occasion took money to one of three girlfriends she alleged Harrod had. She did not break off the affair sooner, she testified, because she feared him and said he boasted that he controlled Mayor Washington.
The trial was delayed nearly two years when Judge William E. Stewart Jr. ordered Honablew to undergo a psychiatric examination and federal prosecutors appealed. Though their challenge was dismissed by the D.C. Court of Appeals in February, Stewart subsequently decided against the psychiatric examination.
Nonetheless, legal sparring between Assistant U.S. Attorney James N. Owens and Harrod's lawyers, Dovey J. Roundtree and John Shorter, continued yesterday as each side constantly interrupted Honablew's testimony and halted the trial more than a dozen times for brief conferences with the judge.
While Harrod's wife and three of his four daughters sat impassively in the front row of the crowded courtroom, Owens told the jury in his opening statement that Harrod forced Honablew to have oral sex with him shortly after she came to work in his office.
That relationship continued against Honablew's will for the next two years, even after her marriage in 1977, he said.
Owens also alleged that Harrod gave Honablew marijuana and smoked it with her and also gave her stolen clothing.
In her opening statement, Roundtree told the jury there was no sexual affair between Honablew and Harrod and focused on Honablew's credibility.
"She's told many different versions of this incident the alleged assault ," Roundtree said. Roundtree said that in one instance Honablew reportedly told an acquaintance Harrod had raped and beaten her in the office.
She described Honablew as a "young, ambitious and manipulative woman" who, if she "did not get her way, would blow up."
Roundtree said the dispute arose because Honablew had been consistently late for work and, on the day the assault allegedly occurred, had become "explosive" because Harrod was going to penalize her for her tardiness.