Dillon says he did not attack women
By Michael Perlstein
The four alleged victims were all petite, unsophisticated young women trying to catch a break on traffic tickets or municipal court charges. They testified last week in court that after seeking favors from former assistant city attorney Henry Dillon III, he sexually assaulted them, then threatened to use his position to destroy them if they went to police.
But from the witness stand on Monday, Dillon offered a very different portrayal of the womens testimony, characterizing three of them as the sexual aggressors and himself as the willing recipient. In the fourth case, Dillon flat-out denied ever crossing paths with the woman.
As a federal jury considers Dillons fate in a high-stakes federal case that could send him away to prison for more than a decade, Dillon, 48, took the bold gamble of confronting his accusers head-on, offering matter-of-fact accounts of what he described as consensual, impromptu sexual encounters at his private law office.
The politically connected former prosecutor is accused of violating the civil rights of two of the women by assaulting them, leveraging the power of his office to intimidate them into submitting. The other two women were allowed to testify as supporting witnesses because their accounts closely match that of the two alleged victims in the indictment.
On some points during his testimony Monday, Dillon couldnt recall how the events unfolded. On other points, however, he testified in precise detail, countering the women at every turn. The Times-Picayune is withholding their names to protect their privacy.
Dillon said one of the victims sought his legal representation in a case involving an auto accident, refuting her testimony that he lured her to his office under the guise of taking a drug test. Once in the office, Dillon said, the 20-year-old woman came on to him, kissing him on the neck and lips and, without prompting, removing her clothes.
She had to swivel out of her jeans they were so tight, Dillon said. I said, Wow, look how fine you are.
He then told the 12-person jury how he gently guided the woman onto her stomach across an overstuffed chair and ottoman before having intercourse with her from behind.
Did she scream? prosecutor Julie Cullen asked.
No, I think she was laughing a little bit, Dillon testified.
In response to another one of his accusers, Dillon said a quick sexual encounter became a full-blown affair, leading to more than 10 liaisons over several months. Dillon testified that he even hired the woman to work for a couple of days for a political organization he ran, preparing checks for election-day workers.
It was all consensual, he said. It was a mutual thing.
In last weeks testimony, however, the woman described a much different encounter, saying that despite her protests, Dillon pinned her to the chair with an elbow on her throat while raping her. I was begging and pleading with him, she said tearfully.
Dillon had his own tearful moments on the witness stand, breaking down in tears when asked what he told his wife about his extramarital sex life.
She stood by me and she forgave me and I love her for it, Dillon said as he choked up.
When Cullen asked Dillon if he was angry at his accusers, he answered, Im not angry at them at all. Ive forgiven each one because God has forgiven me and my wife has forgiven me.
The trial is expected to provide more dramatic testimony today as prosecutors prepare to present a fifth alleged victim as a rebuttal witness. U.S. District Judge Lance Africk ruled late Monday that prosecutors can present the witness, although defense attorney Michael Fawer said he is still exploring avenues to block her testimony.
Michael Perlstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (504) 826-3316.
Reads like Penthouse.
Did they play a porno movie sound track while he gave this testimony?