Financial planner, charged with three rapes, convicted of one in his Warehouse District loft | Law courts
A financial planner accused of raping three women in New Orleans was convicted Friday in one of the cases, concluding a five-day trial that hinged on the definition of consent and the credibility of a victim who accompanied the accused in his Warehouse District condominium.
William McDonough, 49, of Natchez, Mississippi, faces up to 40 years in prison for the September 15, 2016, crime. Criminal District Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier is due to sentence April 14.
McDonough is charged separately with additional counts of second-degree rape stemming from encounters with two other women, who served as witnesses in this week’s trial and claim they were sexually assaulted.
Assistant District Attorney Mary Glass said in her closing argument that not giving consent is as simple as saying “no,” which she called a “simple concept.” Prosecutors said the victim said “no” repeatedly, but McDonough refused to listen.
On the witness stand, the victim described a first date that started at the Ace Hotel and continued to the nearby Saenger Theater, where she danced with McDonough and they kissed with their mouths shut . When McDonough offered her half a tablet of the party drug molly, also known as MDMA, she said, she took it.
Later, at One Eyed Jacks in the French Quarter, the victim testified, McDonough invited her back to his apartment, but she refused because she didn’t want to have sex with him. “I said it several times,” she told jurors, “because I wanted to be very clear.”
But, she said, she was “exhausted” when he suggested a more low-key activity at home: watching TV from her sofa, while eating leftover spaghetti.
In her kitchen, however, the victim said, he began kissing and touching her “aggressively”. To distract him, she requested a tour of the attic, which led to a bed at the top of a spiral staircase. She sat down on the bed. Moments later, he raped her, she said.
“I felt like I had no control over my body,” the victim said, describing being locked on the bed. Standing 5ft 4in and weighing around 100lbs, she testified that this moment was “the first time I’ve been made to feel how vulnerable I am because of my height”.
McDonough pulled over, the victim testified, and she initially stayed at the apartment because she couldn’t find her clothes. But as they walked to the living room, he raped her again, she testified.
Too scared to fight back, she said, she repeated, “no, again and again.”
Shortly after, the victim consulted a doctor, submitted to a rape kit and filed a complaint.
His story was met with skepticism by defense attorney Cameron Mary, who pointed to a toxicology report from the hospital which examined the victim. He didn’t list molly as present in his system.
“That,” Mary told jurors, “should give you a big break.” That the victim said she had taken molly but it was not reflected in the report, Mary said, called into question her credibility. “It proves that maybe she’s making things up,” Mary said.
Mary largely focused on what he called “quirks” in the victim’s story: that she couldn’t remember how McDonough took her dress off, for example, or that when Mary questioned her on the stand, she was “gaming for a fight.”
The DNA taken from the victim’s rape kit was, indisputably, a match with McDonough. But Mary said it only proved the two had sex, “something we don’t dispute”.
Mary asked the woman if she had danced with McDonough in a sexually suggestive way on their first date. “I guess you could call it that,” she replied.
But the victim only kissed him with his mouth closed? Mary asked, and later pointed out, that she didn’t object to McDonough kissing her when they were at her apartment.
“No,” the victim said, “kissing is not the same as being raped.”
‘No means no’
In his closing argument, District Attorney Jason Williams, who co-prosecuted the lawsuit, turned away from the jurors and stood in front of the defense table, looking from Mary to McDonough, his voice almost rising. until a cry.
“It doesn’t matter if you paid for dinner or bought all the drinks,” Williams said. “It doesn’t matter what time of night. No means no.
“It didn’t matter if they thought you were hot or George Clooney or Denzel Washington,” he said. “No means no.”
“It doesn’t matter if she kissed you open-mouthed or danced with you,” Williams said. “No means no.”
CORRECTION: Earlier versions of this story misquoted Williams on the relevance of kissing and dancing.