A defense blunder in the Marion Barry trial prompted the judge on Monday to allow testimony by a Virgin Islands woman that Barry had sex with her without her consent in 1988, according to transcripts of bench conferences unsealed yesterday.

In those transcripts, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled that because Barry co-counsel Robert W. Mance had brought up the subject of $50 that the woman, Linda Creque Maynard, had found in her purse after a hotel room encounter with Barry, prosecutors should be allowed to explore the question of the mayor's sexual conduct toward her.

"For everything except the word 'rape,' I think you have opened the door," Jackson told Mance during a bench conference, held out of earshot of the jury. "You suggested this lady was a complying person who had no inhibitions about remaining on the property, she had the wherewithal to depart and when she left, she found $50 in her {purse}."

That, the judge said, was tantamount to calling Maynard a prostitute -- and that is not necessarily an impression Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Retchin "needs to leave with the jury," the transcripts said.

Maynard was one of four witnesses, all women, from the U.S. Virgin Islands who took the stand on Monday to testify about being in the mayor's presence when drugs were being used -- either by the mayor himself, by the mayor and convicted drug dealer Charles Lewis, or in Barry's sight. Lewis, a Virgin Islands resident who used to work for the D.C. government, has so far been Barry's main accuser.

Barry is charged with three felony counts of lying to a grand jury in saying he didn't know about Lewis's drug involvement. The perjury counts were included in a 14-count indictment issued against Barry by a federal grand jury here on May 10.

Maynard was the last of the four women to testify, and initially her account seemed much like those of Zenna Matthias, a Virgin Islands teacher, and Dixie Lee Hedrington, who owns a secretarial service there. All three women testified that they were introduced to Barry by Lewis in a hotel room in the Virgin Islands in March 1988, and that Barry made sexually suggestive remarks or movements toward them.

But before Maynard took the witness stand, Retchin told Jackson and Barry's defense lawyers during a bench conference -- first sealed and kept secret, and then unsealed -- that Maynard could testify to much more if she were asked.

"I wanted to alert the court and remind counsel that this witness, if asked about it, will testify that Mr. Barry forcefully overcame her sexually, that she believes she was raped by Mr. Barry," Retchin said, according to the unsealed transcript. "I do not intend to elicit that on my examination. What I am asking for is permission from the court to be permitted to lead her around that topic."

"All right," Jackson responded. Then he noted that Mance and Barry's lead attorney, R. Kenneth Mundy, might want to bring up Maynard's story on cross-examination, in an attempt to show "bias" against Barry -- implying that, assuming the forced sex story was true, Maynard would harbor such dislike for the mayor that she might be inclined to lie about his alleged drug use.

Mundy declined that defense tactic after a short consultation with Barry.

"We prefer that it not be brought out, and we will not bring it out," Mundy told the judge.

Then Mance asked Maynard about the $50 that she discovered in her purse, inadvertently bringing out Maynard's account.

Mance's cross-examination until that point had focused on tripping up Maynard in numerous small inconsistencies between her testimony and an earlier statement she had given to police in August 1989.

In those earlier statements, Maynard had told police that she was unsure whether she had smoked crack in Barry's room, and that another woman was there when she arrived. In her testimony Monday, Maynard said no other woman was present, and that she remembered smoking crack with Lewis in the bathroom of the hotel room just moments after she arrived.

Then Mance brought up another discrepancy -- the $50. Noting that Maynard had earlier told a grand jury that she found $50 in her purse, something she had not mentioned in her court testimony, Mance asked, "Who put money in your pocketbook?"

"It have to have been Mr. Barry," Maynard replied. She added, "He was offering me money all the time, and telling me he can give me anything I want, while he was making his advances."

Mance ended his cross-examination a few moments later. Retchin began her re-direct examination by focusing on why Maynard might have had a confused memory about details of what happened in the hotel room.

"Did you want to forget what had happened because you had felt humiliated?" she asked. Maynard answered yes, breaking into tears a moment later.

Retchin focused on the moment in Maynard's story when Barry told Lewis to leave the room, saying he wanted to talk to Maynard for a moment.

"Did Mr. Barry put any limits on himself with you at that point?" she asked. Mance objected -- and the second sealed bench conference followed.

"I was trying to be circumspect and avoid {Maynard's account of having sex with Barry}, but you gave everything else except what really happened there," Retchin told Mance.

"I don't think any questions I asked would open that door at all," Mance said.

"Come on, Mr. Mance," Jackson retorted. "As it stands right now, I am going to overrule the objection to the question as asked."