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Man acquitted of rape charges in Pa.

November 18, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - In his opening statement, defense attorney Stephen D. Kulla said his client was guilty of unlawful restraint and false imprisonment and the jury agreed, acquitting Christopher Lee Gum of felony kidnapping and rape charges.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated an hour in Franklin County Court before finding Gum not guilty of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend and their infant daughter, as well as two counts of rape, two counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault.

Gum, 22, of Winchester, Va., was convicted of unlawful restraint and false imprisonment of the woman, who was discovered bound with duct tape in a room of the Hampton Inn on Oct. 27, 2003. Gum, who has been in Franklin County Prison since his arrest on that date, faces a maximum of seven years in prison on the misdemeanor charges.

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Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Timothy Wilmot said he was "quite surprised" by the verdict.

"Our argument the whole trial was that most of the conduct was consensual and he crossed the line at some point," Kulla said.

The ex-girlfriend testified Gum forced his way into her Winchester home that day and assaulted and choked her until she passed out. The woman testified he bound her with duct tape, but cut her loose after she agreed to have sex.

The woman testified that after they had sex, Gum took her and their 13-month-old daughter to Pennsylvania, where they checked into the hotel. They then went to a fast-food restaurant and returned to the hotel, where he bound and raped her again, she testified.

When Gum left with the daughter to pick up baby supplies at Kmart, the woman got her feet free, opened the door of the room and summoned help, she testified.

Pennsylvania State Police arrested Gum as he returned to the woman's car in the Kmart parking lot, Trooper Eugene Covington testified.

"I did not duct tape that girl ... She told me she would get me for rape," Covington testified Gum said in the parking lot.

When Kulla cross-examined the woman, she initially testified she had not had sexual relations with Gum since their daughter's birth. She later admitted they had sex several times in the months before the incident, despite a court order barring them from having contact with each other.

"When you felt like it, you enforced it?" Kulla asked her about the protection order.

"When he was acting like a jerk, yeah," she testified.

In his closing argument, Kulla said there was no evidence of a struggle in the room or injuries to the woman.

Gum testified he and the woman fought and made up often. He did not deny putting her in a choke hold or binding her with duct tape in Virginia, but said they had consensual sex and she came along willingly and brought their daughter when he said he needed to go to West Virginia.

Gum testified he missed the exit in West Virginia because they were arguing and they ended up in Chambersburg, where she checked them into the hotel.

Once in the room, Gum testified they again argued and had consensual sex. As he was leaving for Kmart, he testified she told him she was going to tell police he kidnapped and raped her.

To stop her, Gum testified he bound and gagged her again with duct tape.

"She was still yelling at me through the tape" as he left, Gum testified.

Judge Richard Walsh scheduled Gum to be sentenced on Wednesday, Dec. 15.

Gum still faces charges of kidnapping and rape in Virginia, Wilmot said.

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