Friday, December 2, 2016

This Day in Crime History: DECEMBER 02, 1991 : KENNEDY COUSIN RAPE TRIAL BEGINS


Opening testimony takes place in the highly publicized rape trial of William Kennedy Smith, a nephew of President John F. Kennedy and son of Jean Kennedy Smith, the president’s sister and a former ambassador to Ireland. Smith, then a 30-year-old medical student at Georgetown University, was accused of sexually assaulting a 29-year-old Florida woman in the early hours of March 30, 1991, at the Kennedy family’s Palm Beach compound.


On the night of March 29, Smith went out in Palm Beach with his uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy, and cousin, Patrick Kennedy. They ended up at a night spot called Au Bar, where Smith met the accuser, who later accompanied him back to the Kennedy estate. Smith and the woman went for a walk on the beach, during which time Smith allegedly tackled and raped her. Taking the stand in his own defense in court, Smith testified he had sex with the woman but that it was consensual. At the trial, Judge Mary E. Lupo barred prosecutors from presenting testimony from three other women who claimed Smith had assaulted them.


As a member of one of America’s most famous families, Smith became the subject of intense public scrutiny and his trial turned into a media circus. Millions of viewers watched the nationally televised event and reporters from around the globe converged on the West Palm Beach courthouse. On December 11, after deliberating for 77 minutes, the six-member jury acquitted Smith on all charges. (In an interesting side note, Smith’s lead defense attorney, Roy Black, later married Lisa Haller, one of the jurors, in 1995.)


During the live television coverage of the trial, the accuser’s identity was electronically obscured with a large dot to protect her privacy. However, following the trial, the woman, Patricia Bowman, chose to identify herself publicly.


William Kennedy Smith became a doctor after the trial, specializing in working with victims of land mines, and remained largely out of the national spotlight. In 2004, a Chicago woman who was Smith’s assistant at the nonprofit Center for International Rehabilitation filed a lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault. A judge subsequently dismissed the suit.

Article Details:

December 02, 1991 : Kennedy cousin rape trial begins

  • Author

    History.com Staff
  • Website Name

    History.com
  • Year Published

    2009
  • Title

    December 02, 1991 : Kennedy cousin rape trial begins
  • URL

    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/kennedy-cousin-rape-trial-begins
  • Access Date

    December 02, 2016
  • Publisher

    A+E Networks

Monday, November 21, 2016

This Day in Crime History: NOVEMBER 21, 1986 : OLIVER NORTH STARTS FEEDING DOCUMENTS INTO THE SHREDDING MACHINE


National Security Council staff member Oliver North and his secretary, Fawn Hall, begin shredding documents that would have exposed their participation in a range of illegal activities regarding the sale of arms to Iran and the diversion of the proceeds to a rebel Nicaraguan group. On November 25, North was fired but Hall continued to sneak documents to him by stuffing them in her skirt and boots. The Iran-Contra scandal, as it came to be known, became an embarrassment and a sticky legal problem for the Reagan administration.



Only six years earlier, Iran had become an enemy of the United States after taking hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. At the time, Ronald Reagan had repeatedly insisted that the United States would never deal with terrorists. When the revelation surfaced that his top officials at the National Security Council had begun selling arms to Iran, it was a public relations disaster.




During the televised Iran-Contra hearings, the public learned that the money received for the arms was sent to support the Contras in Nicaragua, despite Congress’ Boland Amendment, which expressly prohibited U.S. assistance to the Contras. Though the communist Sandinistas had been legitimately elected in Nicaragua, the Reagan administration sought to oust them by supporting the Contras, an anti-Communist group.



During the Iran-Contra hearings, North claimed that the entire Reagan administration had known about the illegal plan. After admitting that he had lied to Congress, he was convicted of shredding documents, obstruction of justice, and illegally receiving a security fence for his own residence. He received a light sentence of a fine, probation, and community service.




A year later in July 1990, an appellate court voted 2-1 to overturn his conviction based on the possibility that some of the evidence may have come from testimony that Congress had immunized in their own hearings on the matter. President Reagan and Vice President George Bush maintained that they had no knowledge of the scheme.

Article Details:

November 21, 1986 : Oliver North starts feeding documents into the shredding machine

  • Author

    History.com Staff
  • Website Name

    History.com
  • Year Published

    2009
  • Title

    November 21, 1986 : Oliver North starts feeding documents into the shredding machine
  • URL

    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/oliver-north-starts-feeding-documents-into-the-shredding-machine
  • Access Date

    November 21, 2016
  • Publisher

    A+E Networks
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

This Day in Crime History: NOVEMBER 15, 1923 : ACCUSED OF RAPE, JAMES MONTGOMERY’S STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE BEGINS



Mamie Snow, a mentally disabled white woman from Waukegan, Illinois, claims that James Montgomery, a black veteran, factory worker, and homeowner raped her. Montgomery, who was promptly thrown in jail, spent more than 25 years in prison before his conviction was overturned and he was released.

From the start, Montgomery’s trial seemed ill fated. Local Ku Klux Klan members threatened Montgomery’s lawyer during the proceedings, and, in 1923, after a weak defense and a trial that took less than a day, Montgomery was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

While serving time, Montgomery studied the law in an attempt to prove his innocence. In 1946, he convinced civil rights attorney Luis Kutner to investigate his case. Kutner discovered a medical report from Snow’s hospital stay revealing that not only was Snow never raped, she was likely a virgin. Kutner also located additional evidence suggesting that the Klan had framed Montgomery and that prosecutors had withheld the medical evidence from the defense. Nonetheless, it took Kutner three more years to have the unjust conviction overturned. Montgomery was finally released in August 1949.

This case of wrongful imprisonment is not an isolated incident for Illinois. Between 1977 and 1999, the state released 11 people from death row because they had been wrongly convicted.

Article Details:

November 15, 1923 : Accused of rape, James Montgomery’s struggle for justice begins

  • Author

    History.com Staff
  • Website Name

    History.com
  • Year Published

    2009
  • Title

    November 15, 1923 : Accused of rape, James Montgomery’s struggle for justice begins
  • URL

    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/accused-of-rape-james-montgomerys-struggle-for-justice-begins
  • Access Date

    November 15, 2016
  • Publisher

    A+E Networks