Ronald Fridge, who told a Washington Post reporter in 1982 that he had been raped while in the Prince George's County jail, said yesterday during the trial of his alleged assailant that he was unsure that the inmate he had identified in the newspaper article was in fact his attacker.
Fridge's testimony prompted the prosecutor to call the Post reporter, Loretta Tofani, to the stand as a rebuttal witnesss. Tofani, who previously refused to appear before a grand jury investigating inmate rapes in the jail, took the stand briefly and testified that her story was accurate.
It was the first time Tofani had testified since her attorneys struck an agreement with the county prosecutor last year. In that agreement, prosecutor Arthur A. Marshall Jr. dropped his threat to ask that Tofani be jailed for contempt of court when she agreed to testify if any of her named sources denied making statements attributed to them.
According to the Sept. 26, 1982, article, Fridge, then 18, told Tofani that fellow inmate Gerald Frost -- on trial yesterday -- had assisted another inmate in raping him. But yesterday, when asked to identify Frost during Frost's trial in Circuit Court, Fridge said, "I'm not sure anymore. It's been four years."
Frost, 25, is charged with two counts of first-degree rape and one of assault and battery. If convicted of all counts, he could receive two life terms plus 20 years.
Charles Kiess, an investigator for the state's attorney, testified that he had provided Fridge pictures of 12 suspects and had asked him to identify the assailant. "He reached for one, tossed it aside and indicated the one he tossed aside was of Gerald Frost," Kiess said.
Asked by prosecutor Thomas McManus if Fridge identified Frost by name, Kiess said yes.
Fridge, now serving a seven-year sentence at the Delaware State Penitentiary for robbery and theft, said yesterday that he was raped by two men while he was in the County Detention Center.
McManus then asked Fridge whether the man who raped him was in the courtroom and Fridge became enraged. He jumped from the witness stand and had to be restrained by the bailiff.
"I'm getting damn sick and tired of these humiliating charges," he yelled. "I cannot identify a person who raped me four years ago. I don't want to open old wounds."
Melbourne then instructed the bailiff to escort Fridge from the courtroom while Frost looked straight ahead, barely flinching at the outburst.
Frost was quoted by Tofani in the article as saying, "The first time, my buddy grabbed three magazines, rolled them and started slapping him [Fridge]. I was laughing because it was funny to me. Then I hit Fridge with a tray and he fell on his knees. My buddy said, 'We're going to bang him.' I said no but he did it to him, on the bunk."
Yesterday, Frost testified that he talked to Tofani, but that "I didn't tell her the truth." Frost said that Tofani "misunderstood " him and he denied ever having hit Fridge with newspapers or with a tray.
After her testimony yesterday, Tofani said that she took the stand because "this meant that I was confirming the accuracy of the story."