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Charlottesville man found guilty of raping neighbor

A "he said, she said" rape case was decided in a Charlottesville courtroom March 5, and the jury sided with the her.

A jury of seven women and five men decided that Gary David Morris raped his Fifeville neighbor after she beckoned him over to fix a leak in her bathroom shower.

"She said, ‘What the f–k, Gary?’" according to the criminal complaint filed in the case when Morris suddenly violated her as she stood with her back to him at her bathroom sink.

The incident took place July 10, 2022. Morris was arrested May 5, 2023.

According to the prosecution’s closing argument, the defendant appeared angry, defiant and upset while testifying that his alleged victim, identified only by her initials B.S., was the actual sexual aggressor on the day of the incident. Morris, the prosecutor said, claimed in court that B.S. suddenly removed her own clothes, placed lubricant on her private parts and urged him to have sex.

The prosecutor, Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania, said that was a lie. He pointed to a pair of "Can we talk?" text messages that Morris subsequently sent to the woman, a registered nurse, afterward.

"There is no gray space," said Platania. "It is one or the other. There is no middle ground."

On the other side of the courtroom, attorney Scott Goodman delivered an impassioned, and at times high-volumed, defense. Goodman alleged that the prosecution’s theory of the case — that Morris was able to quickly remove the woman’s pants and violate her — was implausible.

"That story just doesn’t make any sense," said Goodman. "There’s absolutely no proof whatsoever that this happened."

But as Goodman raised his intensity and volume, two jurors in the front row stared downward, unwilling to meet his gaze.

"He’s telling the truth, and she’s lying," said Goodman.

He said the alleged victim’s characterization of the events defied both logic and fact, because it put her in the bathroom rather than in the basement where Morris said he sent the woman to detect falling water as he directed shower water to a seam between the tub and the wall.

"He came back the next day to caulk the tub," said Goodman, alleging this as an indicator that his client thought nothing was amiss.

"You have to use your common sense," Goodman told the jury. "That’s why we have juries."

Goodman said B.S. was asked by an attending police officer if she wanted to file a protective order against her across-the-street neighbor during the nearly 10-month investigation.

"She said no," said Goodman. "She’s not scared."

Goodman said that because Morris expressed disdain about B.S. dating his son that could have provided a motive to concoct a rape accusation against a 67-year-old man who testified to having gone over a decade without an erection.

While the prosecutor seemed to be playing a less-is-more strategy in his closing after the alleged ‘s tearful testimony, Goodman noted the the rape test kit which B.S. obtained from the University of Virginia Health System nearly four days after the incident provided no physical evidence of a rape or any physical link to his client.

"There’s nothing," said Goodman. "He’s being railroaded."

When Platania returned for the last word before the jury, he was brief.

"Do not confuse lack of volume with lack of passion or lack of belief," said Platania.

That earned an objection from the defense, which Circuit Court Judge Claude Worrell sustained.

The jury was out for more than three hours before returning with a unanimous guilty verdict.

Morris was not remanded to jail but was instead allowed to remain on the $10,000 cash bail that he posted after his arrest. His sentencing has been set for May 28.


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