New Orleans prosecutors on Tuesday began laying out their case against a Mississippi financial planner who they say lured a woman to his Warehouse District loft in 2016 and raped her.
William McDonough, 49, was charged with second-degree rape in the incident on September 15, 2016. He faces two additional counts of second-degree rape stemming from encounters with two other women who claimed to have been victims of sexual assault.
In opening statements, Orleans Parish prosecutors said McDonough invited the woman back to his apartment after their first date, but she declined, saying she didn’t want to have a relationship. sex with McDonough.
But according to Assistant District Attorney Mary Glass, the woman agreed to go to McDonough’s apartment after he offered her some leftover spaghetti. There, according to prosecutors, the six-foot-two, 200-pound man allegedly overpowered the five-foot-four, 100-pound woman, stripped her of her clothes and raped her.
Afterwards, the woman went to the hospital. DNA taken from her thighs matched McDonough’s DNA.
McDonough has been held in prison since 2019. He is expected to face separate trials for the additional rape counts. Prosecutors said they will call these two women as witnesses who will testify that McDonough forced himself on them after nights of drinking. In one incident, they said, a woman was left with a black eye; in another, she suffered a concussion and fractured ribs.
McDonough pleaded not guilty to all charges and, in his opening statements, his attorney, Cameron Mary, said the defense intended to raise questions about the women’s credibility.
“It’s a tragic story, a terrible story – if only it were true,” Mary said.
The details of the woman’s story will make no sense, Mary said, and later added that another witness “is all over the map”, with an “axe to grind against [McDonough]“following a breakup.
In testimony later Tuesday, Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams, who is co-prosecuting the lawsuit, interviewed a man who said he had known McDonough for 15 years.
Williams asked the man to read a series of graphic texts sent between the two friends on September 16, 2016 which described sexual acts between McDonough and the woman, prompting the friend to text McDonough, “Have you you raped?”
McDonough said no, but admitted to being aggressive with the woman.
Tuesday’s trial kicked off in Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier’s courtroom at Orleans Criminal District Court following a long day of jury selection that focused heavily on defining consent and on the non-verbal cues that give permission or cancel it.
They also followed defense motions to quash the indictment against McDonough for prosecutorial misconduct and exclude evidence they say was not provided to them in a timely manner. Alleged prosecutors emailed 112 hours of recorded phone calls from the New Orleans jail, where McDonough was being held, just five days before the trial began.
The records included 69 calls between McDonough and his defense team, according to the motions.
Flemings-Davillier denied the motion to quash the indictment and declined to rule on the motion to exclude the phone calls as evidence, court staff say, opting instead to address it if prosecutors try. to use the calls as evidence against McDonough.
In a statement, Williams called the allegations in the motions “manifestly baseless.”
He said prosecutors did not listen to attorney-client calls, which will not form part of the state’s case. “We simply, out of courtesy, forwarded every recorded call to the defence.”