At­tor­ney wants to in­ter­view wit­ness

Re­quest made in al­leged WCU rape case that took place in a cam­pus park­ing garage

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Ch­escoCourtNews on Twit­ter

WEST CHESTER>> The at­tor­ney for a for­mer West Chester Univer­sity stu­dent charged with sex­u­ally as­sault­ing a fel­low stu­dent in a cam­pus park­ing garage said Wed­nes­day he wants to in­ter­view a woman who in­ter­rupted the in­ci­dent and told po­lice that she had “just wit­nessed a rape.”

Phillip Press of Norristown, rep­re­sent­ing de­fen­dant Austin Eaddy, told Com­mon Pleas Judge David Bort­ner that he be­lieves the woman, who later sat with the al­leged vic­tim while po­lice ques­tioned her about what had hap­pened, may be a sex­ual as­sault sur­vivor her­self, some­thing that could have af­fected how she re­sponded to the in­ci­dent.

The woman may also have al­lowed her past ex­pe­ri­ences to shape how the al­leged vic­tim viewed what had hap­pened, Press said dur­ing a pre-trial hear­ing Wed­nes­day.

“I want to know about this wit­ness,” Press said dur­ing the hour­long pro­ceed­ing. “She may pre­vi­ously have been a vic­tim, or some­one close to her was. I be­lieve this goes right to my client’s right to con­front a wit­ness at trial.” Her past “may have col­ored her per­cep­tion” of what she saw that night, he said.

“This is the seed that leads us to where we are to­day,” Press told the judge. “I just want to know what caused that wit­ness to jump to that con­clu­sion.”

Eaddy, 24, of Philadel­phia, is charged with rape, sex­ual as­sault, ag­gra­vated in­de­cent as­sault, theft by un­law­ful tak­ing, sim­ple as­sault, in­de­cent as­sault, and ha­rass­ment. He is be­ing held on $100,000 bail in Chester County Prison await­ing trial. Seated at the de­fense ta­ble dur­ing the hear­ing, Eaddy did not ad­dress the court. He was, how­ever, given per­mis­sion to speak with his mother, who was in the court­room. Press said it was her birth­day.

The pros­e­cu­tor in the case, As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Jonathan Har­rar, told Bort­ner that he could not stand in the way of Press, or a de­fense in­ves­ti­ga­tor work­ing on the case, seek­ing to ques­tion the wit­ness about her past, or any­thing else. He in­di­cated, how­ever, that he would ob­ject to any ques­tions that Press could pose about her past ex­pe­ri­ences at trial as out of or­der.

“That’s what I am push­ing

back at,” Har­rar said. “It is ir­rel­e­vant to what she saw that night.”

There is no firm ev­i­dence, he added, that the wit­ness had ever been as­saulted. He said later that she is un­der no obli­ga­tion to dis­cuss the case with Press be­fore trial, and that she could flatly refuse to meet with a de­fense in­ves­ti­ga­tor.

Ac­cord­ing to univer­sity po­lice, the woman came upon the al­leged as­sault in the early morn­ing hours of April 1, hear­ing a woman’s screams in­side the New Street Park­ing Garage and then see­ing a man, later

iden­ti­fied as Eaddy, grap­pling with the woman next to a car parked there. When she shouted at the man, “What are you do­ing?” he cursed and ran away, jump­ing from a sec­ond floor win­dow of the garage.

The woman, iden­ti­fied in the crim­i­nal com­plaint as Cather­ine Do­herty, was able to at­tend to the al­leged vic­tim af­ter she started to walk away from the scene, and then sat with her while she gave a state­ment to univer­sity po­lice about what had hap­pened to her. Do­herty told po­lice that she had said to her­self when the in­ci­dent oc­curred that, “She had just wit­nessed a rape.”

Press has main­tained that what oc­curred in the garage was con­sen­sual, and that the al­leged vic­tim had ini­tially told Do­herty that she knew Eaddy and

did not want to have po­lice in­volved. It was not un­til later, said the de­fense at­tor­ney, that the al­leged vic­tim changed her story and said she had not know Eaddy be­fore­hand and that he had forced her to have sex.

It was be­cause Do­herty was al­lowed to sit with the woman dur­ing ques­tion­ing that led Press to sug­gest that she sub­tly given her the cues to claim she had been at­tacked. “I am of the firm be­lief that this was a con­sen­sual act,” he said.

Press’ de­mand to be per­mit­ted to in­ter­view Do­herty came in a mo­tion for dis­cov­ery that in­cluded a re­quest to see cam­pus sur­veil­lance videos recorded the night of the in­ci­dent, and to have the court pay the costs of a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor to help him in­ter­view her and other po­ten­tial wit­nesses, as well as a psy­chol­o­gist to tes­tify about how Do­herty’s past may in­flu­ence what he per­ceived.

The at­tor­ney said that al­though he had been hired to rep­re­sent Eaddy, he had not been paid in full by his fam­ily. Eaddy, who was a sopho­more at the school liv­ing on cam­pus when he was ar­rested, is in­di­gent and can­not af­ford to pay those costs.

Bort­ner did not rule on the re­quest for funds, say­ing that he knew of no au­thor­ity that pri­vate at­tor­neys were en­ti­tled to such fees paid by tax­pay­ers. He di­rected Press to con­tact the Chester County Solic­i­tor’s Of­fice to see what their po­si­tion would be.

Har­rar said he wel­comed Press’s re­quest for ad­di­tional sur­veil­lance tapes from the univer­sity po­lice, and that he had turned over the only such tapes he had been given. One tape shows Eaddy and the al­leged vic­tim en­ter­ing the garage to­gether about 2 a.m., but noth­ing he had been given shows how or where the two came in con­tact, he said.

Press said his the­ory was that the two — who had been at sep­a­rate par­ties that night — met near a bus stop on cam­pus where the al­leged vic­tim had walked to with a friend. She was ex­tremely in­tox­i­cated, and could not tell po­lice later how she had got­ten to the garage on her way home to the dorm in which she lived.

He sug­gested that the woman, whose name was not dis­closed in the crim­i­nal com­plaint filed by for­mer West Chester Univer­sity De­tec­tive Roland Walker III, may have thought that Eaddy was

“If there is some­thing dif­fer­ent about this case I would want to see it. I would love to know how and when they met be­cause my wit­ness does not re­mem­ber.” — As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Jonathan Har­rar

some­one she knew and went with him to the garage will­ingly.

“I’ve been beg­ging him to go to the univer­sity to get what he wants,” Har­rar told Bort­ner. “If there is some­thing dif­fer­ent about this case I would want to see it.” He said he had been told that no other video ex­ists show­ing the two to­gether. “I would love to know how and when they met be­cause my wit­ness does not re­mem­ber.”

Bort­ner said that the trial in the case would likely not oc­cur un­til early next year.

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