A D. C. Superior Court jury yesterday found former D. C. personnel director George R. Harrod innocent of a charge that he had assaulted a woman staff aide who contended that she was trying to end a sexual relationship with him.
Harrod, who was placed on administrative leave after his indictment more than two years ago and later retired, slumped into his chair with his hands over his face as the jury foreman announced the verdict.
"I've been through three years of hell," he told reporters afterward. Harrod, who had insisted he never had a sexual relationship with and never hit the woman, Dolly Honablew, 30, said the trial was not actually on the assault charge, but represented a prolonged "character assassination" directed against him.
In his testimony, Harrod had accused Honablew, who asserted Harrod had coerced her into having an affair with him, and three other women, who testified that he had made sexual overtures to them, of being disgruntled employes who were engaging in a "conspiracy" against him.
Honablew contended that the sexual relationship began shortly after she started working in Harrod's office in 1976 and continued until August 1978, a year after she was married, when she attempted to break it off.
She said that Harrod, now 58, beat her on Aug. 30, 1978, when she refused to continue the relationship. Harrod was indicted the following Arpil.
Harrod's lawyers, Dovey J. Roundtree and John Shorter, argued that Honablew was a manipulative woman who was inclined to exaggerate, and had offered several versions of the incident in Harrod's office that day.
The lawyers argued that Honablew was upset because Harrod had chastised her for tardiness at work and had warned her about smoking marjiuana.
Mush of the testimony in the week-long trial -- conducted in a packed, standing-room-only courtroom -- focused on whether there had been a sexual relationship, and on Honablew's contentions that Harrod bought her stolen clothes, smoked marijuana himself and that she ran errands for him in a city-owned car.
The seven-man, five-woman jury, which deliberated more than seven hours Tuesday and yesterday, told Judge William E. Stewart Jr. yesterday afternoon that they were unable to reach a decision. Stewart urged them to continue deliberating.
Jurors afterward said that at the time, 11 favored acquittal and one conviction. The final vote for acquittal came about two hours after they received Stewart's request to keep trying.
Several jurors said they found the testimony about the sexual relationship, the marijuana and the stolen clothing to be "entertaining." But, one juror pointed out, "that had nothing to do with the charge of assault."
Harrod's wife and three daughters, who had attended the trial all week, clapped and cheered as the verdict was announced.
Stewart dampened some of their happiness when he sternly admonished the crowd, which began leaving after the jury was dismissed, that the proceedings were not over. He then ordered Harrod to appear Sept. 8 to face a charge of criminal contempt of court for discussing the case with a juror during the trial.
Sources alter said Harrod apparently had talked briefly with a juror as they were riding in an elevator Friday and had voiced his innocence.
Harrod told his lawyers of the conversation and they in turn informed Stewart, who ordered the juror replaced by an alternate.
If found guilty of the contempt charge, Harrod could face a fine, a jail term or both.