From Pittsburgh Live story entitled Witness links rape defendant to murder:
The night of the attack, [Jeffrey] Clifford was drinking alcohol, she said. After they returned to her apartment he took off her clothes, punched her in the arms, legs and breasts, then forced himself on her.
"He was like an animal. I never saw Jeffrey that way," she testified. Jurors saw pictures of Clifford's accuser that depicted several bruises and a mouth with missing teeth.
Defense attorney Duke George told jurors in his opening statement that Clifford and his accuser had consensual sex. He said evidence will reveal the woman suffered no injuries.
"They want you, as a result of what happened 16 years ago, to find him guilty," George said.
What happened 16 years ago refers to Clifford's confession (after this alleged rape) to this woman that he beat a girl and left her to die and testimony from 2 women that Clifford physically attacked them that same year. That confession matched the details of an unsolved case related to the death of Suzanne Rausch, described as a mentally handicapped teen, in which he was and is a person of interest.
The prosecution believed that this latest victim was told about one of the earlier attacks in order to scare her out of reporting this assault.
As for the defense's claim that "it was consensual" if the jury accepts that Clifford punched her before sex any claim of consensuality becomes invalid. This is true even if that woman was going to consent. All prior consent is nullified when someone turns physically violent.
Unfortunately, too many people refuse to understand this basic fact. For them consent is something which cannot be nullified no matter how violent the other person gets.
The 4-day trial ended and the verdicts were mixed.
Jurors deliberated nearly three hours yesterday before determining that Jeffrey Clifford, 52, did not force sex on his 53-year-old friend. The jury, though, in a mixed verdict, found Clifford guilty of seven related lesser offenses, including felony counts of aggravated indecent assault and sexual assault as well as a charge of making terroristic threats.
I'm glad the jury didn't completely buy the defense's story. Clifford now faces a maximum of 37 years in prison so those lessor charges are by no means truly minor charges.
This victim has multiple sclerosis and there were also allegations of 2 other attacks against women with physical disabilities at the time of their attacks. This woman's bruises were dismissed by the defense attorney as caused by this woman's MS.
The defense attorney plans to appeal based on allowing the testimony about Clifford's confession and those other 2 women's testimony, but since that confession was given as part of the crime, it was relevant and was rightfully admitted. And those other 2 women's testimony shows a pattern of behavior which contradicts the defense claim that this was a fraudulent police report.
When it is the truth of how a crime was committed, evidence which substantiates that MO and the truth of immediate witness intimidation which is incriminating that isn't unfair bias, it is valid evidence.