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Thursday, August 26, 2004  

News: Kennedy Smith sued for alleged rape

This news makes me feel old. Been there. Done that. Or at least read all about it. More than a decade ago, I followed the William Kennedy Smith rape case closely. My feelings about it were mixed. I thought the victim believed she had been raped. I also thought Smith might be someone who likes his sex rough, based on allegations by other women who had known him. However, a jury -- not unreasonably -- believed that the evidence was insufficient for a conviction. And, here we go again.

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- A woman claims in a lawsuit that William Kennedy Smith sexually assaulted her in 1999, and her lawyer said Thursday that she did not come forward at the time because she was intimidated by his wealth and connections.

The Kennedy cousin cleared of rape charges in 1991 said his family and personal history made him a target for "outrageous" allegations. And the woman herself acknowledged having had a relationship with Smith some months after the alleged assault.

In the suit filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court, 28-year-old Audra Soulias alleges that after a night of drinking in 1999, Smith, now 43, forced her out of a cab and into his home where he sexually assaulted her. She is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

. . .In 1991, a jury in West Palm Beach, Florida, acquitted Smith of sexual assault and battery on a then 30-year-old woman he met in a nightclub. He said the sex between him and the accuser, Patricia Bowman, was consensual.

Soulias was an employee when the alleged rape occurred. Kennedy, a physician, has established a fine reputation as an activist for victims of land mines. He heads the Center for International Rehabilitation. He has been lauded for his work for such a wonderful cause. Thousands of people, many of them children, are maimed by mines left from wars throughout the world each year. Kennedy seemed to have made a winning recovery from the embarrassing situation he found himself in in 1991.

If Kennedy felt intimidated by Soulias, I believe he would have agreed to a monetary settlement without the ugly publicity resulting from a lawsuit being brought. Expect him to fight back.

2:05 PM