Early on June 28, 1980, Angie, a 20-year-old prostitute who has plied the streets near Logan Circle for three years, allegedly was dragged into a van as she walked along 13th Street, driven to a vacant house and repeatedly raped.
If past experience was any guide, police never would have learned of the incident, officials say, because of prostitutes' deep-seated aversion to any contact whatsoever with police and courts.
In a highly unusual move, Angie decided to press charges, placing herself in the curious position of cooperating with the same government prosecutor's office that twice before successfully has argued for her conviction on prostitution charges.
It is no less ironic for the prosecutors, who have based their case in D.C. Superior Court this past week on what defense attorneys called a "parade of prostitutes, felons, and street people," including not only Angie but one of her customers and the operator of a bawdy house as well. A verdict in the case is possible sometime today.
Three men -- Robert Norris, Willie Royster, and Paul Taylor -- are on trial, and each faces a life prison term if convicted. Angie has been unable to identify a fourth suspect.
There is no dispute that all three had sexual intercourse with the prostitute in a vacant house that morning, but attorneys for the prosecution and defense see the circumstances differently.
The men "decided they weren't going to pay," Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. McDermott told the jury. "They figured they could get away with it because she was a prostitute . . . she wouldn't even report it. They were wrong about that . . .
"They're thinking now that no trial jury will ever convict them," he said.
Allen Rugg, one of the defense attorneys, has argued that what happened in the house was "exactly what was agreed upon and paid for."
Trouble only began when Angie, as the prostitute is known on the street, asked for an additional $40 and was refused, defense attorneys told the jury and presiding judge Annice M. Wagner. It was then, the defense alleged, that she concocted the rape story.
" Angie is a prostitute . . . who sells her body for money, who would do anything for a buck, who would come to court and make up this complete story," said Mark S. Carlin, another defense attorney.
As evidence, the defense cited testimony by a physician who examined Angie at D.C. General Hospital, where she was taken by police sex squad detective Susan Roberts. The physician said she found no substantial evidence of physical injury such as might result from a forceful rape.
"The defense wants you to believe that for $40, she went to tell her story to the police . . . She has no motive to make this up. What did Angie get out of this?" prosecutor McDermott argued.
Angie, as the key government witness, forthrightly acknowledged to the jury, made up of older men and women, that she was "prostituting."
But, she explained, "I don't get into cars, because there's a 'trick house' down the street where girls can be safe." That is because "things like this happen to girls all the time," she said.
Joe Cameron, who as the operator of a bawdy house at 13th and U streets was promised immunity from prosecution if he testified, told the jury that shortly after Angie left with Donald Coleman, her last customer, he heard her screaming outside.
According to Angie and Coleman, as they walked south on 13th Street NW, two men jumped out of a parked van.
"They snatched me," Angie testified, " . . . They chased Coleman . I gave up fighting because both of them had me. I was scared. I was screaming and hollering, telling them I had a kid, saying 'Please don't kill me.' " The men, she said, forced her into the van, where two other men were waiting.
The four drove Angie to a renovated, unoccupied house on 4th Street NE. One man who had a key opened the door. She said she was taken to the second floor, forced to undress, and then raped. When she was finally released, they gave her $3 to cover cab fare back to 13th Street, she testified.
"The fact is, they are trying to base their case . . . on the words of a bunch of bums, a bunch of absolute losers," argued Alan B. Soschin, another defense attorney, in urging the jury to reject the testimony of prosecution witnesses.
" . . . Who are going to be the bystanders at 13th and T early in the morning?" McDermott retorted later. "They will all be people with criminal records, or the police."
The jury -- two-thirds of whom are men -- heard both sides close their case on Friday, and will begin deliberations today.