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Trial begins for Pa. man charged with attempted rape

May 13, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - The victim of a 1985 rape testified Wednesday in Franklin County Court against a Harrisburg, Pa., man charged with an attempted rape last year near Greencastle, Pa.

Douglas Paul Wingert, 39, of 5225 Crestwood Drive, is accused of trying to rape a teacher at knifepoint at a private school in Antrim Township on May 22, 2003.

In the trial's first day, the jury heard from both the teacher and the woman he was convicted of raping 19 years ago when she was 14.

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The teacher testified she was alone at the school late in the afternoon when she saw a white box truck pass by slowly. Later, she was outside the school when the truck pulled up and a man got out to ask directions to a Greencastle auto dealership.

She testified the truck had the name of a New Jersey company, and she identified Wingert as the driver.

The woman allowed the man inside to use the telephone. When she went back inside, he grabbed her and put a "box cutter-type knife" to her throat, she testified.

"Don't make a sound or you're dead," she testified the man said. He forced her into a classroom and began to fondle her, but she slipped out of her jacket as he tried to pull it off, she testified.

The man tackled her in the hallway, pinned her down and continued to threaten her life, she testified. He ordered her to roll over, but when he got off of her momentarily "I got up and ran again," she testified.

She ran out of the school and hid in some weeds while the man got into the truck and drove off, she testified. She then flagged down a passing vehicle for assistance, the teacher testified.

The teacher was followed to the stand by the woman Wingert confessed to raping in the Harrisburg area in 1985. At a March 29 pre-trial hearing, Assistant District Attorney Nancy Meyers got Judge Carol Van Horn's permission to introduce the woman's testimony to establish a common plan or scheme between the crimes.

The woman testified she was walking home at night when Wingert, whom she knew, offered to escort her. She testified he took her through a wooded area, put a knife to her throat and raped her twice.

"The things he was telling me. I was afraid I wasn't going to make it home. I kicked him hard and then I ran home," the sobbing woman testified.

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Joseph Davidson testified police checked with a Greencastle dealership and found it had received deliveries from a New Jersey parts company on May 22. Davidson testified he showed the teacher a photo lineup and she "very quickly" picked Wingert's picture.

Wingert is charged with criminal attempt rape, simple assault, unlawful restraint, terroristic threats and indecent assault, according to court records.

"I'm going to basically tell you to find him guilty of four," defense attorney Justin J. McShane told the jury during his opening statement. "We're going to draw the line on criminal attempt rape."

That is the most serious charge.

"The crime of indecent assault is what happened here," McShane said.

During cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, McShane said various police reports on the incident made no specific mention of an attempt to rape the teacher.

McShane told the jury Wingert had not formed the intent to commit rape.

The prosecution ended its case Wednesday afternoon. The defense was to begin its presentation this morning.

Wingert spent 17 years in state prison on the rape conviction and a separate indecent assault conviction, Meyers said.

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