An Alexandria man, arrested after an incident during which police say a 15-year-old girl was raped twice in a high school bathroom as a group of teen-age boys watched, was released to the custody of his parents yesterday after his lawyer challenged the police version of the event.
Attorney Janell Buell said her client, Jeffrey Lewis, 19, "did not force the victim into the bathroom -- she went in willingly." Prosecutors did not dispute Buell's account during a brief bond-reduction hearing in Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Lewis, charged with abduction, had been held under $50,000 bond since his arrest Thursday in Alexandria. Prosecutors argued yesterday for retaining Lewis under "a substantial bond" but did not urge a specific amount.
When Judge Michael J. Valentine pressed deputy Fairfax prosecutor V. Britt Richardson to provide details of the seriousness of the attack on the Fort Hunt High School student, Richardson declined. "We'll present our evidence at trial, your honor," he said. "The incident is still under investigation."
The prosecutor cited Lewis' record, "the age of the victim and the serious nature of the charge" in seeking a high bond. Richardson opposed Buell's request that Lewis, a bricklayer, be released on personal recognizance to the custody of his parents. That action allowed him to go free after his parents signed a pledge to see that their son returned to court for a preliminary hearing Nov. 19 or pay a $10,000 penalty.
At the hearing, Buell described the incident as "a party, a consentual sort of thing. It was just like any other time, just somebody in the bathroom having sex."
Chief Fairfax prosecutor Robert F. Horan Jr. said later that the 15-year-old sophomore at Fort Hunt High School did not consider the activity in the bathroom to be consentual. "There is a different version than that," Horan said.
He declined to elaborate "until the investigation is ended. One of the problems with this case is that we've had people jumping to conclusions based on half-facts and speculation."
Police have said the 15-year-old sophomore was raped twice in a girl's bathroom while as many as eight teen-age boys watched.
Lewis, who has a juvenile record including two convictions for grand larceny and a conviction for felonious assault, is the only person charged in the incident. Horan said yesterday the investigation is expected to be finished by midweek and additional charges may be filed.
Buell said her account comes from interviewing her client and three other people she said were in the bathroom. "All confirm that my client did not force this girl into the bathroom . . . and that he took no part in the actions in the bathroom," she said.
She noted in court that "as the investigation goes on, the account is tempered a great deal, the story provided by police has . . . lessened a great deal." In their original account, a police spokesman said some people in the bathroom jeered and verbally encouraged the assault.
Horan has since said he can find no evidence of jeering or cheering, despite the initial report.
Police have since said that information was based on initial accounts that turned out to be inaccurate. According to Horan, there were six teen-age males in the girls' bathroom that night, plus the victim and Lewis, and police have interviewed all but one of those present. None come from Fort Hunt High except the victim, Horan said.