The Providence Journal reports:
A 48-year-old Narragansett man has been charged with raping someone 32 years ago when both he and the alleged victim were 16 years old, the attorney general's office said this week.
Harold Allen, of 30 Riverview Rd., was indicted last month on a charge of first-degree sexual assault, and he pleaded not guilty, court records show. Allen is accused of raping the girl in North Kingstown between April 1 and Oct. 31, 1975, the records show.
"The traumatized victim decided back then not to tell anybody what happened and repressed the memory of it until recently," said Michael J. Healey, a spokesman for Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch's office. "The victim came forward and made a complaint to the North Kingstown Police Department on June 15, 2006."
No statute of limitations applies to charges of first-degree sexual assault ....
"If this incident happened today, it would be [handled in] Family Court," [Healey] said. "But Family Court never attained jurisdiction because no petition was filed against the defendant before his 21st birthday saying he had committed the crime before he was 18 years old. So you bring the charge in the court that would have had jurisdiction if the crime was committed by an adult. And that means the Superior Court." ...
[Allen's lawyer says that] "[Allen] says they never had intercourse -- willing, unwilling or otherwise."
Sounds like a pretty troubling prosecution -- one person's word against another's, with no physical or documentary evidence, about something that happened two-thirds of a lifetime ago. I'm no expert on memory, repressed or otherwise; and it may well be that there's some other evidence available here, hard as it is for me to imagine what it might be. Still, it seems to me highly unlikely that a jury could sensibly discover beyond a reasonable doubt what really happened between these two pepople 32 years ago.
Thanks to Sean O'Brien for the pointer.
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