- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 26, 2004

CHICAGO (AP) William Kennedy Smith, who was acquitted more than a decade ago of sexual assault, has been sued in civil court by a former personal assistant who said that the Kennedy cousin raped her in 1999.

The nephew of Democratic U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts said in a statement that the charges are false, calling them “outrageous, untrue and without merit.” The statement from the Center for International Rehabilitation, which Mr. Smith leads, said that the woman had demanded $3 million.

“Unfortunately, my family and my personal history have made me unusually vulnerable to these kinds of allegations,” Mr. Smith said in the statement.

In 1991, a jury in West Palm Beach, Fla., acquitted Mr. Smith, now 43, of sexual assault and battery of a 30-year-old woman.

In the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court, 28-year-old Audra Soulias said that after a night of drinking, Mr. Smith forced her out of a cab and into his Chicago home, where he sexually assaulted her. She is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

Miss Soulias said that after the January 1999 assault, Mr. Smith left her apologetic voice-mail messages.

“He dragged me into his house, dragged me upstairs in his bedroom where he raped me,” Miss Soulias told television station WBBM in Chicago.

A message of inquiry left with Miss Soulias’ attorney was not immediately responded to Wednesday night.

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