Originally created 11/21/02

Woman testifies at rape trial

GASTONIA, N.C. - Twice she asked him, "Are you going to rape me?" and twice Aaron LeBlanc responded with vulgarity that he had no such intentions, a woman testified Wednesday.

Then, she told the jury, Mr. LeBlanc yanked down her tights and underpants and raped her.

Mr. LeBlanc, 20, has pleaded innocent to charges that he raped the young woman who testified Wednesday.

Jurors do not know that less than a month before the alleged rape in Gastonia, N.C., Mr. LeBlanc was acquitted of three rape charges in Augusta.

"(Mr. LeBlanc had) one hand at my neck and the other hand was in my hair and he was banging my head on the floor" as she was being raped, she testified.

It happened just before 7 a.m. March 18, she said. She was dressed for work and chatting on her cell phone to her best friend in Charlotte when her doorbell rang, she said.

She didn't know Mr. LeBlanc by name, she said, but she recognized him as being with the "nice young couple" who lived in the apartment next door. He said the toilet was broken in his apartment and asked if he could use her bathroom. She let him in and returned to her phone conversation. She was still talking to her friend when Mr. LeBlanc came back to the living room, she testified.

He rushed her and pinned her on the couch, she told the jury. Her phone was still on.

"I'm trying to pry his hand off my mouth and I'm screaming 'Dial 911, dial 911.' There's a struggle. I'm trying to break free ... I realize there is a knife against my throat," she testified.

For a moment, the right-handed woman was able to get the knife away from Mr. LeBlanc, but it ended up in her left hand, she testified.

"I brought it back to his shoulder to stab him, but I couldn't do it," so she threw the knife, she testified.

"Then he got angrier. That was when he put his hands on my throat and started choking me," she testified. He tied her hands behind her back and assaulted her, she said.

Afterward Mr. LeBlanc ordered her on her feet and to turn so he could untie her, she said. "He said, 'Oh my God, you're ... bleeding everywhere.' He started freaking out."

He pushed her from the living room to the bathroom, yelling, she said. He made her clean up and ordered her to give him her clothing. She tried to convince him that she was sick from a blood disorder and had to get to a drug store for medicine, she said. She kept talking as she pulled on different clothes and edged her way to the front door, she testified.

"He's pacing. He's saying, 'Oh my God, what did I do? What am I going to do?"'

She grabbed her keys and cell phone and bolted out the door to her car. She could hear him yelling at her, demanding that she come back, she testified.

She called her friend in Charlotte again as she raced to the friend's home. Her friend had already called police, and the woman pulled her car off the road to wait for the police and ambulance.

When the trial resumes today, the woman will face questions from Mr. LeBlanc's attorney. In addition to her family's presence in the courtroom for moral support, she again will see the faces of the women from Augusta who had accused Mr. LeBlanc of rape and testified against him in February.

Before they left court Wednesday evening, each hugged her and her mother, promising they would be back today.

As in the Richmond County Superior Court cases, the Gaston County prosecutor offered a plea deal to Mr. LeBlanc. While he had been willing to accept an offer in Richmond County to plead guilty to three rape charges in exchange for 20 years in prison - a deal rejected by the judge as too lenient - Mr. LeBlanc turned down the Gaston County offer to plead guilty to a single count of rape with the dismissal of the other pending charges.

Mr. LeBlanc faces charges of first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense, kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and breaking and entering.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com.

The trial of Aaron LeBlanc, who is charged in the rape of a Gastonia, N.C., woman, continues today.


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