Prosecutor says woman did not consent to sex

January 30, 2007|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN - Christopher Michael Ridenour dated his alleged victim for three weeks before he forced her to have sex with him in June, Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion told jurors Monday on the first day of his trial.

Ridenour, 34, of 10701 Bower Ave. in Halfway, is charged with first-degree rape, second-degree rape and first-degree assault, among other charges, in the June 14, 2006, incident.

First-degree rape carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Ridenour was being held without bond at the Washington County Detention Center, a jail spokesman said Monday.

In her opening statement Monday, Cirincion told jurors that most people think of rape as a violent act between strangers. She told the jury of seven men and five women that although Ridenour had consensual sex previously with his alleged victim, the woman did not consent to have sex with him the morning of June 14.


The woman is pregnant with Ridenour's child, but she testified that she doesn't know whether the baby was conceived that morning.

One of Ridenour's attorneys, Assistant Public Defender Brian Hutchison, told the jury in his opening statement that they would see a "lack of quality" in the evidence the prosecution planned to present.

The 24-year-old woman testified Monday that the couple began arguing after Ridenour drove her new car erratically from a bar to his apartment early June 14.

"I yelled at him, told him he was disrespecting me and I wanted to go home," she testified. "He told me he was going to kill me and he didn't want me to leave."

The woman testified that once they arrived at his apartment, Ridenour took her keys so she couldn't go anywhere. At one point, Ridenour threw her to the ground, she testified. She escaped the loft apartment and banged on the door of Ridenour's neighbor and housemate, but no one answered, she testified.

Ridenour dragged her back to the apartment, where the couple continued to argue, she testified. Ridenour began "strangling" her on his bed, she testified.

The woman testified that she told Ridenour "eight, nine, 10 times" that she did not want to have sex, but he proceeded to rape her. When she left at about 1 p.m. June 14, Ridenour told her repeatedly, "Don't set me up," she testified.

A Washington County Hospital physician's assistant, Frank Slabinski, testified that he examined the woman at about 3:30 p.m. June 14, at which point she complained of neck soreness and he noticed bruises on her forearm.

The woman testified that she went to the Washington County Sheriff's Department after work, at about 11:30 p.m., and reported the assault, and then was examined at the hospital for the rape.

The trial is expected to conclude today in Washington County Circuit Court.

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