www.timesleader.com News Sports Weather Obituaries Features Business People Opinion Video Contact Us Classifieds

Rape trial of U.S. Marine under way

Rene Babi, 24, is accused by Tennessee woman of sexual attack in February 2007.

WILKES-BARRE – A 29-year-old Tennessee woman testified Tuesday that a U.S. Marine fondled her, held her down and then raped her in February 2007.

But attorneys for the accused, Rene Babi, 24, said the woman, now a wife and mother of two, needed a scapegoat for staying out late and sleeping with Babi when she had a boyfriend.

Babi’s attorneys, William Ruzzo and John Donovan, said in their opening statement Tuesday that the woman and Babi had consensual intercourse, that Babi is a well-respected active-duty Marine and that he has volunteered to serve in Iraq but can’t because of the rape charges.

A jury of seven men, five women and two female alternates were chosen to hear the case that began Tuesday afternoon.

Assistant District Attorney Jenny Roberts said in her opening statement there was nothing consensual between the woman and Babi, and that the woman trusted Babi enough to give her a ride home from a local club that night, only to have been raped.

“Evidence will show she tried to push him off her, saying no,” Roberts said. “Then they struggled in the living room. Evidence will show how she was crying and scared. How he raped her.”

The woman testified Tuesday that she was at the former Club Mardi Gras in Wilkes-Barre with four friends on Feb. 4, 2007. The woman told police she drank heavily that night and danced with Babi after her friends left to go to another establishment.

Early that morning, she testified, she began to search for a ride home and felt safe getting a ride with Babi because he was a Marine and an acquaintance of her friends. “I thought I could trust him,” she said.

She said she and Babi left the club when she began throwing up and Babi invited her into his apartment to use the bathroom, because he said he had to stop and get something that would take awhile. She said Babi began to fondle her on the outside of her clothing while she was throwing up in the bathroom, and she tried to push him away.

The woman said she and Babi ended up on the floor, where Babi removed her pants, held her down and began to have “forced intercourse” with her.

“He raped me,” the woman said, weeping loudly during most of her testimony.

Prosecutors also called two of the woman’s friends who were with her at Club Mardi Gras that night, and who took her to the hospital.

Questioned by defense attorneys, one friend testified that the woman was sometimes a “drama queen” and occasionally “stretched the truth.”

Testimony resumes Thursday.

The Weekender Go Lackawanna Timesleader The Dallas Post Tunkhannock Times Impressions Media The Abington Journal Hazelton Times Five Mountain Times El Mensajero Pittston Sunday Dispatch Creative Circle Media Image Map