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The Accused

OLTL's Marty fights for her dignity, and a surprise witness rocks the courtroom

Soap Opera Weekly


By Mark McGarry

The heartstopping drama of Marty's (Susan Haskell) rape trial continues this week on One Life To Live. Early in the week, Marty takes the stand for the second time, to try to convince the jury that she was wrong in accusing Kevin (Kirk Geiger) but is certain Todd, Zach and Powell (Roger Howarth, Josh Phillip Weinstein and Sean Moynihan) raped her. By week's end - and after Nora (Hillary B. Smith) relentlessly cross-examines Marty - Todd gets rattled by district attorney Hank (Nathan Purdee), causing Nora to begin to dought her clients' innocence. On Friday, the arrival of a surprise witness stuns everybody. But will her (or his) testimony be enough to convict Todd, Zach and Powell?

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Marty (above) breaks down on the witness stand this week

Marty's testimony helps the prosecution but then Nora gets her chance. "She tears her apart," says Haskell, "and brings up all the horrible things she's done in the past." Michael Malone, OLTL's head writer, says that's why Marty was the perfect candidate for this story. "One of the wonderful things about soap opera is that stories never end. Last summer we did a story in which a young woman, out of being hurt, started a lie that almost destroyed people's lives. This summer, that same young woman is the girl who cried wolf."

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The principal players (from far left): Hank, Marty, Suede, Todd and Nora

Nora is allowed to bring up in court Marty's past sexual encounter with Todd, which damages the prosecution's case. Hank objects, citing the Rape Shield Law, which states that a victim's past isn't admissible as evidence. But the judge overrules his objection because in this case, the victim's prior history involves one of the accused. As for her bruises from that night - key evidence for the prosecution - Nora points out that people who have lupus, as Marty does, bruise easily. They also can become irrational when they don't take their medicine, which Marty hadn't been doing around the time of the rape.

Hank counters by almost cracking Todd. When Nora first calls Todd to the stand, "He outright lies," says Howarth, noting that there's no justification for his character's actions. "He's a choirboy. He says Marty wanted to have sex with three guys, and that she fabricated the charges because she was hurt that Todd spurned her after their first encounter, and wanted to get back at him." But then  Hanks bears down, pressing Todd about why Marty's panties were ripped and why he didn't use a condom, as he had when he and Marty had sex previously. "Todd gets caught in  his lies," says Purdee, "and Nora sees this and it raises doubts in her mind." Adds Malone, "Hank goads Todd into a really angry explosion that shocks Nora. It's the first indication that things are going to unravel.

Smith says the truth is going to affect Nora greatly, as far as the character's confidence in herself and in her judgment. "Todd, Zach and Powell swore it was consensual sex," she says, adding that Nora wouldn't have defended the trio if she hadn't been convinced of their innocence. "Nora truly believes Marty felt bad about what happened, so she lied and called it rape. If Nora thought her clients were lying to her, it would have been difficult to rake Marty across the coals the way she does.

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The accused with Nora (above, from left to right): Powell, Zach, Todd and an exonerated Kevin

"Nora did a lot of soul-searching to being with about how she feels about accused rapists," Smith continues. "She gave them every opportunity to tell the truth. She said, 'If you did it, tell me now and we can do the best we can with that. The important thing here is that the truth come out.' That's what they've been fighting to keep away from her - the truth." After Hank is finished with Todd, Smith explains, "Nora redirects and asks him point-blank, 'Did you rape Marty Saybrooke?' And he tells her he did not. Then [the surprise witness] comes in and..."

Viewers will have to wait until Aug. 6 to hear the outcome of the trial. The principals can only speculate about what their characters' reactions will be if the verdict comes back not guilty. "It would be devastation," Haskell says. "Absolutely devastating. Marty has risked everything here. She's been through so much. Not only has she been raped, but she had to go through a trial and deal with people not believing her."