Trial centers on whether Rockland woman lied about sex assault

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted July 31, 2013, at 9:21 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A 30-year-old Rockland woman accused of lying about being raped by her boyfriend went on trial Wednesday charged with making a false statement to police.

The defense attorney for Octavia Faustini, however, argued that his client did not lie and that she was sexually assaulted.

Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody told jurors in his opening statements Wednesday morning in Knox County Superior Court that Faustini falsely accused her boyfriend because she wanted him out of her life.

Jurors also were shown three videos of Faustini being interviewed on three separate occasions by Rockland police last fall after the alleged sexual assault, which she said happened on Sept. 30, 2012.

Rockland police Detective Russell Thompson testified that there were significant discrepancies between what Faustini told Rockland police Officer Andrew Crook the day after the alleged assault and the statements she made to Thompson two days later.

Defense attorney Joseph Steinberger said in his opening statements, however, that the discrepancies were not significant and that police failed to properly investigate the case.

The defense attorney also took aim at who he said was the chief witness for the prosecution — Faustini’s former boyfriend, who is the man his client said raped her. Steinberger pointed out that police never interviewed a friend of Faustini’s to whom she first reported the sexual assault and that it took police more than 10 days to interview the former boyfriend, whom the BDN is not naming because he has not been charged with a crime in this case.

Testimony provided on Wednesday revealed that Faustini’s 35-year-old former boyfriend is a lifetime registered sex offender who has a conviction for gross sexual assault in 2001 from Waldo County and an unlawful sexual contact conviction from Knox County in 2009.

Faustini and the man had been living together for a month at the Brunswick Rooms in Rockland before she reported the alleged sexual assault. Testimony from the videos also indicated that the woman is disabled and has a mental health caseworker.

Thompson testified Wednesday that the investigation took a different turn after he reviewed the first interview Faustini had with Officer Crook. In the first interview, Faustini said the sex began as consensual and then occurred over her objections. In addition, she claimed in the first interview that she screamed in her boyfriend’s ear and tried to fight him off, but in the second interview said she did not scream nor try to fight him off.

In a third and final interview with Faustini, nearly three weeks after the alleged sexual assault, Thompson said he pointed out the inconsistencies. Faustini maintained that the sexual assault occurred and stated that she felt “like everyone is looking at me as the criminal.”

In that third interview, Thompson questioned her repeatedly about whether she reported the sexual assault as a way to get out of the relationship. He also suggested she was mad at the boyfriend because his sex offender registration status got them kicked out of a motel in Rockport where they had been staying for a weekend. The detective also suggested that Faustini was still mad at the man for having a much earlier relationship with her mother that had ended eight years before.

Faustini acknowledged that she filed the sexual assault complaint to get her then-boyfriend out of her life but at another point in the interview said, “The incident did take place. He forced sex on me that night.”

Thompson also showed Faustini text messages she sent to her then-boyfriend the evening of the assault and the next day in which it appeared they were friendly. At that point in the interview, Thompson announced to Faustini that he was going to serve her summonses for the two charges.

Faustini was sobbing audibly at the defense table as this part of the video was played to jurors.

In the defense attorney’s cross-examination of Thompson, the detective acknowledged he did not interview people who stayed in the rooms adjoining Faustini’s, nor did he interview the woman she confided in after the alleged assault.

The former boyfriend testified Thursday afternoon and said he did not have sex with Faustini on the day she claimed the assault occurred.

Steinberger questioned him about whether he had erased other emails that he had sent to Faustini and the witness said he had erased them before he knew police wanted to talk to him.

Justice Jeffrey Hjelm told jurors the trial would extend into Thursday.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/07/31/news/midcoast/trial-centers-on-whether-rockland-woman-lied-about-sex-assault/ printed on August 28, 2014