RI officer stands trial on rape charge

The officer is accused of assaulting the woman in a police substation


Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A woman who says an on-duty Providence police officer raped her testified on the opening day of a sexual assault trial Thursday that she woke up in the bathroom stall of a police substation with her pants undone and her undergarments removed.

Sobbing into her hands as she spoke, the woman, 22, said she felt sick and woozy from a night of heavy drinking when she got into the front seat of the officer's car after being turned away from a Providence nightclub because she was too drunk.

She said the officer, Marcus Huffman, offered her a ride, but instead drove her to an unfamiliar brick building - a deserted substation - where prosecutors say she was raped and left on the bathroom floor.

Prosecutor Maureen Keough told jurors that Huffman took advantage of a helpless and incapacitated woman, then victimized her further by showing up to take a report from the woman after her aunt called 911.

Huffman, who has been suspended without pay from the police force, faces charges of first-degree sexual assault in Providence Superior Court. Huffman's lawyer, Robert Caron, did not make an opening statement.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they were victims of sex crimes.

The alleged victim testified haltingly, weeping each time she glanced in Huffman's direction and pausing periodically during her testimony to cover her mouth and dab her eyes with pink tissues. She was supposed to testify in the morning, but was so overcome with emotion when she got to the stand that she could not speak.

A judge ordered a recess, and the prosecutor called her as a witness after the lunch break.

The woman said she had downed drinks of vodka, rum and Hennessy before heading out with her brother and friends to a Providence nightclub early on March 18, 2007. She was turned away by the club's owner for being too drunk and told by her brother to wait in the car - a directive she balked at, even though she was feeling sick from the alcohol.

"I was afraid something was going to happen to me and that no one would hear me if I screamed," she said.

She said an officer she identified as Huffman drove up alongside her and told her she needed to leave the area and ordered her into his car. She said she remembered being driven to a building and then entering a bathroom stall and placing her head on the toilet. When she woke, she said, her undergarments were off and she felt sore and swollen.

She said she grabbed her clothes and walked several blocks to her aunt's house, where she told her relatives what had happened, Keough told the jury.

"She tells them, 'I think I was raped, and I think it was a cop,'" she said.

The trial comes at an already difficult time for the police department, as several other offices face criminal charges in separate investigations.

One officer, Detective Robert DeCarlo, pleaded not guilty last month to charges of beating a restrained man with a flashlight, and three other officers - including a narcotics detective, a school resource officer and a former driver for Providence Mayor David Cicilline - were arrested two weeks ago for allegedly participating in a cocaine-dealing operation.

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