Rep. Mark Patterson, R-Boise, is offering a new account of events surrounding his being charged with rape in Florida in 1974, including that a private investigator "obtained a tape recorded confession by the woman making the charge that established that she had fabricated the incident."
Contrary to his statement to Tampa police reported in 1974, Patterson said in a news release Monday that he "had absolutely no sexual contact" with the woman. He also said he feared for his life after having been "beaten badly twice" in jail, which was one reason he pleaded guilty to a crime he said he didn't commit.
Patterson said his family hired a lawyer and investigator to pursue the case after his felony guilty plea in July 1974. "After two years' additional work, our private investigator uncovered hard evidence that the police report was full of inaccuracies and conflict," he said in the release.
Patterson did not reply Monday to a request for a copy of the recording. His attorney, Wade Woodard, of Boise, said he was "not authorized to comment further or to provide any additional information."
Meanwhile, Patterson's House colleagues reacted cautiously Monday. House Ethics Committee Chairman Lynn Luker, R-Boise, and House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, declined to discuss possible ethics complaints.
"There is some concern about how this reflects on the institution of the House and the Legislature," said Rusche. "I think there will be people talking about it, but that's probably as far as I'm going to go."
NEW DETAILS EMERGE
Patterson's new account was in response to a story in Sunday's Statesman. The Statesman reported that Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney said he has revoked Patterson's concealed weapons license because Patterson failed to disclose he pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit rape in 1974, accepting a withheld judgment.
When Patterson met with the Statesman on Oct. 31, he said he couldn't recall what led to his arrest, citing memory loss connected to medical treatment in 2003. He said he did not have access to any evidence and did not mention his accuser recanting.
"I don't remember the details, but I've always remembered the police lied," Patterson said Oct. 31. He declined to look at a police report, saying, "No, this isn't going to refresh my memory."
Patterson also has declined to say where he has lived, attended school or made his living before coming to Idaho in 2004.
In a three-page news release first provided to KIVI Channel 6 and KBOI Channel 2 late Sunday and then revised and sent to the Statesman late Monday, Patterson says, " I had absolutely no sexual contact with this person whatsoever."
In a 1974 Tampa police document, Detective L.S. Lynch reports the details of an interview he conducted with Patterson while investigating the alleged rape.
According to Lynch's report, Patterson said he had consensual sex with the 46-year-old woman once. Then 21, Patterson described the act as "balling," saying "she was even on top for awhile and that she did not resist him at any point," Lynch wrote.
The woman told police, however, that she was forced to have sex twice, saying Patterson threatened to have his 85-pound Doberman pinscher attack if she refused, according to a report by Tampa police Detective Myrtle Ellison.
The Oct. 31 interview with the Statesman took 2 1/2 hours and was held in his lawyer's office. Patterson said he couldn't remember the circumstances of his arrest because he'd lost his memory after chemotherapy for hepatitis C virus.
"Listen, you gotta understand," Patterson said. "I did chemotherapy, a double dose every week for six months back in '03. A lot of my memory is gone."
In Patterson's news release, however, he says he was "scared and beaten badly twice while being held in one of Florida's most violent jails" after his arrest.
"In literal fear for my life, I accepted a plea arrangement for a withheld judgment which placed me on probation for five years. All I wanted was to get out of there and be reunited with my family."
In his Oct. 31 interview with the Statesman, Patterson did not describe any violence in jail. Asked how long he was jailed, he said, "I have no idea a little while."
In his release, Patterson said his accuser "had fabricated the incident because she was angry that I would not give her money."
Detective Lynch's report says Patterson alleged the woman became "cocky" and "bitchy" after they had sex and asked for $10. The report says Patterson refused and fell asleep.
On July 21, 1976, Patterson's 24th birthday, the Florida court ended Patterson's five years of probation three years early. Patterson told the Statesman that Judge Harry Coe III signed the termination of probation "as a birthday present to me." Coe died in 2000.
In the Statesman interview, Patterson did cite the Florida attorney and investigator his father hired in the 1970s, but said he couldn't remember their names and had no access to any records. "We're talking 40 years ago," Patterson said. "I don't have that stuff."
"All he's got is (his probation) was terminated early and it was done on the same date as his birthday," Woodard, Patterson's lawyer, said in the Oct. 31 interview with the Statesman.
Patterson told the Statesman that after his guilty plea his father "got the attorney on it with an investigator and then they got enough information (and) they went back to the judge." He told the Statesman he could provide no details of the information he said had been turned up.
In the interview with the Statesman, Patterson quoted his Florida lawyer recounting a conversation with Judge Coe: "He said, 'You tell your client I'm going to go ahead since it's close to his birthday and sign all the paperwork on his birthday. And I want you to understand that the system really does work if you stick with it.'"
About a year later, Patterson was charged with rape in his hometown of Cincinnati. Prosecutors alleged he choked a woman and threatened her life in forcing her to have sex on June 17, 1977. Patterson was indicted in July, but acquitted by a judge in September 1977.
Patterson said the Statesman and Sheriff Raney are engaged in "a bare-knuckled campaign to intimidate me from serving the people of Idaho," adding, "I will not be silenced so long as God gives me the strength."
Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics