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Deliberations continue in man's rape trial



Published: Fri, August 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The 25-year-old defendant did not testify.

By ROGER G. SMITH

COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Prosecutors acknowledge the rape case against Forrest A. Rupp is a classic "he said/she said."

But there's no reason or evidence to discount the accuser's testimony, prosecutors say.

Rupp, 25, of Poland, is charged with two counts of rape. A 22-year-old New Waterford woman testified that Rupp raped her in a car one night in March 2004 with her 8-month-old baby in the back seat.

A jury of six men and six women will continue deliberations this morning in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. The jury started deliberations Thursday afternoon. Testimony in Judge Jack Durkin's court started Wednesday afternoon.

Closing statements

Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Krueger, during her closing statement Thursday, said the accuser was a naive, small-town girl upon whom Rupp preyed. The woman had no motive to lie, the prosecutor said.

Krueger told jurors the evidence shows Rupp intimidated the woman with his bragging about his criminal record. The woman feared what he might do to her or her child before they were in the car, once they were in the car and afterward, the prosecutor said.

"It was about power and control, and that's what rape is about," Krueger said.

In April 2003, Rupp was one of four men who helped Martin Koliser escape town after he shot and killed city Patrolman Michael T. Hartzell. Koliser received the death penalty but committed suicide in May.

Rupp served about 90 days of a three-year prison sentence for obstructing justice and was put on three years' probation. He also is on probation until 2007 for an unrelated aggravated robbery conviction.

Rupp did not testify in the rape trial.

Defense lawyer Ronald D. Yarwood argued in his closing statement that a friend warned the woman that Rupp had been in trouble and to stay away from him.

The woman didn't heed the warning and had sex with Rupp anyway, he said. The woman then regretted how the encounter would affect her reputation, he said.

The woman didn't take several opportunities to get away from Rupp before or after the alleged rape if she was so afraid of him, Yarwood said.

"She was never, ever afraid of this guy," he said.

Only after contacting Rupp's parole officer, who encouraged the woman to tell her story, did the accuser contend she was raped, Yarwood said.

rgsmith@vindy.com




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