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Teen recounts theater sexual assault

March 30, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A 17-year-old girl in court Wednesday gave her account of escaping an alleged sexual assault in a movie theater bathroom stall.

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The girl alleged a man threw open the stall door, pushed her against the wall and thrust his pelvis at her.

Responding to questions by Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Greg Jones, she alleged her attacker had lewdly propositioned her and grabbed her breasts before she pushed him away.

The Morning Herald withholds the names of sexual assault victims.

The testimony came during a preliminary hearing for Jason Paul Williams, 22, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., who is charged with the March 20 attack at Hoyts Cinemas on Foxcroft Avenue in Martinsburg.

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Police watched a surveillance videotape and determined the man was still in a cinema after the attack, said Officer Terry Shetley of the Martinsburg Police Department, the only other person to testify.

Shetley said Williams, who was watching a movie with his brother, was taken into custody after the girl alleged he was the man who had attacked her.

Berkeley County Magistrate Joan Bragg ordered the case held over for the next grand jury to consider in May.

Williams is free on $10,000 bail on a charge of first-degree sexual abuse.

John Adams, an attorney from the county Public Defender's Office who is representing Williams, told Bragg, "He's of very limited capabilities."

While on the witness stand, the girl said she knew Williams was in the special education program at her high school because she is friends with his brother.

Williams' mother, who attended the hearing, declined to comment outside the courtroom when it was over.

Adams also declined further comment, which he said is the policy of the Public Defender's Office.

The girl testified that she and her boyfriend had gone to the theater that day to see the movie "American Beauty." Halfway through the movie, she left to use the bathroom, she said.

She said she was in a stall when she heard someone enter the bathroom and set something on the counter. She thought it was another woman, but when she heard heavy breathing, she became suspicious, zipped up her pants and looked to see who it was, she said.

The man burst in and attacked her, she said. "He was right in front of my face," she testified.

The girl said she told the man several times to get off her, then pushed him against the stall door. That "further trapped me," the girl said, so she pushed him aside enough to let herself out.

Asked how long the attack lasted, the girl said it was about five minutes.

"Five minutes?" Adams asked.

"Maybe three of four," the girl responded.

"I understand that you weren't looking at your watch," Adams said, and the girl smiled.

She said her only injuries were redness on her chest and right arm, where she was grabbed.

Shetley said he - along with the girl, her boyfriend, another police officer and the general manager of the theater - watched about 15 minutes worth of surveillance tapes, starting before the attack.

Shetley alleged the surveillance tapes showed Williams entering and exiting the women's bathroom two other times before the attack.

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