Note: This hearing for a civil protection order against Bill Rausch occurred in DC Superior Court on Wed., Nov 20 – Fri., Nov 22. 2019. In American civil cases, the trial portion is simply referred to as a
“hearing” or “proceeding,” though they feature witnesses, attorney’s
questioning and cross-examinations, a judge, and witnesses can be charged with
perjury if they are found to be untruthful.
I ordered the transcripts following the trial, paid for them, and received them yesterday. I have since been informed by the victim’s attorney, that the transcripts were sealed. Out of respect for the victim and the court, I will not be posting the full transcripts or screen shots of the pages. The hearings were open to the public. Essentially, they confirm what people present in the courtroom have already told me.
Background: The Victim in this case was in a relationship with Bill Rausch for several years, during which time Bill was married. Bill was Maura Murray’s boyfriend at the time she was missing. The Victim sought a civil protection order from Bill after years of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. He is currently facing felony sex abuse charges related to an alleged attack against another woman in D.C.
It is clear the judge in this case, Neal Kravitz, expected this CPO to be a relatively short matter. It lasted three days.
Bill arrived with one witness, a spokesperson for the Maura Murray family named Erinn Larkin. She provided emails and texts between herself and the victim to either Bill or directly to Bill’s lawyer and they intended to use her to poke holes in the victim’s story. She sat with Bill and his family in the hall, within view of the victim. Bill had introduced the victim to Erinn and the victim believed Erinn was her friend until she caught Erinn secretly recording her at a bar. Ultimately, Erinn was never called. As a witness she was not supposed to be in court during the rest of the trial, so the first order of business was asking her to leave the courtroom.
Opening statements were heard. “The court will learn that [Bill’s] abuse of [the victim] began within days after they started dating and that [the victim] endured years of emotional and physical violence.” Bill would choke and hit her without her consent, the victim’s lawyer said. And Bill “would also refer to [the victim] during sex as Maura, the name of his ex-girlfriend who went missing in 2004.”
“He would say, Maura you’re a bitch, you’re a whore, you’re a cunt.”
One one occasion, he backhanded the victim so hard she chipped a tooth. He would hit her and then ask her to send him pictures of the bruises. He stalked the victim after she broke up with him, the lawyer said, leaving over 100 social media messages. He sent her flowers and a Mac Book. He came to her home, unannounced, and slipped a note under the door. The victim was so frightened of Bill she stayed at a safe location for six weeks and had a security system installed.
In her opening, Bill’s lawyer claims the victim was really just mad at Bill for not making their relationship public on social media.
After this, the victim takes the stand. Her attorney questions her under oath. The victim spoke in detail after the hitting and choking she endured during their relationship. She showed the court her chipped tooth. She talked about being frightened when he called her Maura during these moments of violence. She read from the note he left in her door. Here’s a snippet from the note:
“I’m sorry for all the pain I’ve caused. You don’t have to worry about it ever happening again. I’m going to fix everything. You’re the most amazing woman I’ve ever known. Goodbye. I love you.”
After he came to her house, she texted a friend and told her she thought his stalking would only end one way. “I was terrified I was, he would use violence against me that would end my life.” She goes on to say, “In late September, early October I contacted a journalist who writes about the Maura Murray case (me) and I asked to speak with him because I wanted him to know part of what was goin on, that I was being stalked, because I… I… I thought I was going to go missing and I wanted somebody else to know.”
The victim filed a report with the DC police. While she was filling out the forms, she started getting notifications that someone using Bill’s mother’s Facebook account was liking all her photos on social media. She viewed that as intimidation.
“Is there anything else that led you to be afraid of Bill?” he attorney asked.
“Yes, I mean the fact that he was indicted for sexual abuse and the fact that he has a missing girlfriend.”
On the second day of trial, the victim was cross-examined by Bill’s attorney. Her questions to the victim suggested Bill believed the reason she broke up with him was not the violence but because he hadn’t made their relationship Facebook official and that Bill’s mother was still posting pictures of Bill’s wife on Facebook.
At this point, it’s revealed that Bill has a recorded telephone call between himself and the victim that occurred after the breakup. This will pop up that day and the next and ultimately Bill claims that he accidentally recorded her, though the defense points out he called her via an app on his phone that is only made to record conversations, and that he would know better because he was, at the time, in charge of a propaganda campaign for the US Army in which he was tasked with using social media apps to record and monitor posts by enemies of the state.
Next, Bill’s lawyer tries to introduce WhatsApp conversations between her and Erinn Larkin. WhatsApp is an app some people use for secure conversations – it’s easier to subpoena info from Gmail and texts. These conversations were provided to the the attorney by Erinn in order to bolster Bill’s defense.
Bill’s lawyer then goes on to suggest the real reason the victim contacted me and the police was because Bill had posted a picture of himself with his daughter for International Daughter’s Day. The victim said that’s absurd.
Here it comes out that Erinn has told Bill and his attorneys that, at one time, the victim had talked to Erinn about taking out a restraining order against me because I had called her for comment after she ended up in an E.R. with a head wound on Valentine’s Day with Bill. The victim, under oath, said the talk about a restraining order never happened, that if that’s what Erinn said, she was lying.
The victim’s attorney then redirects. The victim talks about how Bill came to her in 2018 asking to date her again and promising not to hit her again.
The victim then produces a text she sent to Erinn saying she felt unsafe around Bill. Erinn has said publicly that the victim never told her she was afraid of Bill.
Next they discuss how Bill sent her an email after the temporary protection order was in place. It included photos of the two of them together. He told his attorneys that he did it on accident, that he meant to just forward it to them. But the victim saw it as more intimidation.
At this point Bill’s lawyer attempts to get the case thrown out due to lack of evidence. The judge wasn’t having it, though. So she called Bill to the stand.
They get to Maura Murray quickly. On the stand, under oath, the attorney asks Bill if he was ever a suspect in Maura’s disappearance. He says no. Now, for the record, this is untrue and Bill knows that, if only for the fact that the first thing that happened when he went to New Hampshire, was that he was interrogated by police detectives.
What happens next is not for public consumption. It’s a detailed public airing of their sexual history and proclivities. It will get worse on Day 3. But the things that were aired in court in presence of the victim are beyond the pale. The fact that the victim had the fortitude to return for Day 3 is a testament to her strength or maybe just the fear she had for Bill to see it through.
At this point, what comes out is that, when Bill was returning to the states from East Africa earlier this year – while he was under indictment for sex abuse in DC, with a warrant out for his arrest – he began to delete emails and messages that might be found under subpoena, a possible criminal offense, if true. But he didn’t delete everything. He kept a sex tape.
On the third day, Bill’s lawyer asks the victim to watch the sex tape in court. Her reasoning was that the victim sometimes enjoyed rough sex (as do millions of people), the suggestion being the hitting that left bruises was somehow always consensual. As an aside, I have covered court cases for fifteen years now. I have never heard of anything like this. As a human being, I’m not sure how to view this as anything other than an attempt to shame the victim. Lesser people would have dropped the case then in order for the tape never to be shown. But the victim didn’t blink.
Then Bill is asked again about deleting messages while under indictment. “And the concern was that when he got back to the states his phone might be seized,” the attorney said “And then the Government in the course of the third degree sex abuse allegation might be like investigating his materials, right?”
Things wrapped up quickly after that.
Here’s what the judge had to say when he found Bill guilty of stalking and granted the protection order. “I don’t view this as a close case.” He said any reasonable person would be afraid of Bill after the way he acted. He says Bill may well be a narcissist. In his letters, he talks about how much he misses the victim but he never asks how the victim is doing. “Anyone looking at this objectively, and not just from his own interests, would have known that that level of contact or even one percent of it, would have caused a reasonable person in the petitioner’s circumstances, as he knew it better than anyone else, to suffer significant emotional distress and harm. And that’s exactly what happened.”
“There is good cause to believe that Mr. Rausch committed the crime of stalking.”
Bill was ordered to pay the victim $1,813, the amount she spent for a new security system.
The judge ordered that Bill attend 22 sessions of domestic violence counseling. When his lawyer objected, the judge said, “I think he needs it. I think his lack of awareness is to me striking.”
Finally, Bill’s lawyer asks the victim to return some items that Bill had given her, “personal items, clothing, maybe a clock or something…”
The judge it seems didn’t know the importance of that clock. It never came out in court. The clock was a gift Bill gave to the victim. It had a secret camera in it. He asked her to use it to record her having sex. She never did.
Here is the timeline of contacts Bill attempted to make with the victim after she asked to be left alone. While she was going over this with a police detective, someone using Sharon Rausch’s (Bill’s mother) Facebook account liked all of her photos, a way to send direct notifications to her cell phone. She viewed this as further intimidation: