19 July 2005

Smith campaign experiences setback

State Senator Rod Smith, who is campaigning for governor as a tough on crime, law and order candidate, is now being forced to answer questions about an alleged rape that occurred on the University of Florida campus in 1999 that he refused to prosecute when he was the county prosecutor. Smith, who has made his tenure as a former Alachua County State Attorney a central theme of his campaign, now sees his most valuable asset possibly becoming his greatest liability.

In 1999, an exotic dancer named Lisa Gier King, along with another dancer, was paid to perform at the Delta Chi fraternity house on the UF campus. After the performance, the one woman left, but King stayed at the fraternity house. The following morning, King was found half naked in the front yard of another fraternity house, where she asked a student to ''hold me,'' because "they raped me.'' The police initially investigated the complaint, but eventually arrested King for filing a false report.

Rod Smith, then the Alachua County State Attorney, dropped the charge against King and charged six fraternity members with misdemeanors. The complaint from King and the campus chapter of the National Organization of Women is that Smith did not go far enough. No one was charged with the alleged rape of King.

Smith claims that the case was not one that any reasonable prosecutor would pursue. Following the accusation, a videotape emerged showing King in very provocative situations, including one where she attempts to shave the genitals of the man she later accused of rape, Mike Yahraus. The Delta Chi men titled the video, "The raping of a white-trash, crackhead bitch," but it is not clear if a rape actually exists on the video.

Smith refuses to dispute King's accusation. He simply says that the video creates enough reasonable doubt that a conviction against Yahraus would likely be impossible. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) agrees with Smith. The current State Attorney Bill Cervone, a Republican, and Jeanne Singer, who head the office's sex-crimes unit at the time of the alleged crime agree that Smith did the right thing by not bringing a rape charge.

Still, this issue may prove to be a major problem for the Smith campaign. King's version of events will be featured prominently in a new documentary, scheduled for release this November, entitled Raw Deal: A Question of Consent.

While the Republican Party is completely beholden to the religious right and big business, the Democratic Party in recent years has become a collection of various special interest groups, including feminists. While the experts claim that Smith was right in his decision to not prosecute Yahraus, the feminist groups may not be as easy to convince. Expect one of Smith's opponents to throw gasoline on this fire.


Anonymous Arthur said...

I don't see this as a big problem for Smith. When the ACLU exonerates you, it's pretty safe to assume the progressive and radical party elements will also stand down.

The existence of the tape showing this exotic dancer leading in consensual sexual activities also make it difficult to get righteously indignant about how the case was handled.

The prosecution of the frat boys and the dropped charges against the exotic dancer also give Smith cover.

It's up to the Smith campaign to blow this issue out of the water with a strong response and statement.

Time will tell.

9:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This whole thing has been trumped up by the sinking Maddox Campaign in a last desperate effort to soil Maddox's opponents. The smut mongerers operating around Maddox have determined to drag out every case that Rod Smith prosecuted and every vote Jim Davis has taken in order to bring them down.

Maddox's allies do not care about the Democratic Party or its welfare. All they care about is destroying anyone in Scott Maddox's path. This has been Scott Maddox's career pattern and sad to say unless someone finally runs him out of politics this will continue into the future.

10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is important to note that last week, the Maddox support team in Palm Beach, led by Congressman Bob Wexler and Andre Fladell, met to discuss how to save the flailing Maddox campaign. The issue was presented that they leak a damaging story about Smith's time at the state attorney's office.

Now, this may just be a coincidence, but it appears that this story came from the Wexler/Fladell meeting in Palm Beach County.

If anyone knows more details, please post. This is just what I have heard.

12:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's widely believed that Smith's team was responsible for much of the anti-Maddox press in the first place. It seems weird that people would be attacking Maddox for answering a negative campaign with a negative campaign, if that is indeed true. Besides, Smith's numbers dropped last month without him facing any bad press--you can hardly say he's standing in anyones way.

3:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story isn't bad. Just the headline.

If you read it you will find that Smith's decided against prosecuting an unwinnable case.

It looks like the videotape was too powerful for a jury to overcome and convict the frat boys.

There is no comparison to this and "Maddoxgate" in my opinion. One is about making tough decisions and sticking to them, the other is a story of incredible ignorance and mismanagement.

7:22:00 PM  

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