Front Royal man found guilty of 2013 rape charge at bench trial
FRONT ROYAL – A Front Royal man was found guilty of a 2013 rape charge in a Warren County Circuit Court bench trial on Thursday.
Judge Dennis L. Hupp scheduled a sentencing hearing for Dale William Baldwin for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 1. Hupp made his determination after three witnesses gave separate testimonies in the trial, and reviewing evidence and police interviews.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton and defense attorney Eric Wiseley first asked questions of a victim who said Baldwin raped her on June 10, 2013.
She testified that she had walked to Baldwin’s house that night after a disagreement with her boyfriend. She said she intended to speak with Baldwin’s girlfriend about the disagreement, but found that no one was home when she arrived.
She said Baldwin later arrived at the house and she followed him in, where after checking his phone Baldwin told her his girlfriend was on her way. The two talked and drank vodka in the house for around 30 to 45 minutes, after which she said she went to the bathroom.
“I finished up in the bathroom and I opened up the door and he’s standing there naked and I said, ‘What are you doing?'” she said in the testimony.
With no response, she said she then tried to push past him but he grabbed her by the shoulders. She then described him forcing her into a nearby bedroom and tearing off her pants, taking her underwear and shoes with them.
She said she physically resisted his advances and repeatedly told him to stop.
“I’m fighting him the whole time,” she said.
She said that after Baldwin raped her, he told her he’d impregnated her and said, “You’re mine.” He then left the bedroom and she said she heard a door shut, believing he had gone to the bathroom.
Once she heard the door shut, the victim said she ran to get her cell phone from her purse and sent text messages to her boyfriend, saying “help me” multiple times. Wiseley asked her to read text messages off of a printed photo of a cell phone she identified as hers, which read that she had typed she was “at Will’s,” referring to Baldwin. Her phone was later submitted to Hupp as evidence.
She then recalled struggling to find her clothes in the messy room and hearing a loud noise – finding that her boyfriend had kicked down Baldwin’s door. She said that after learning what had happened, her boyfriend began hitting Baldwin repeatedly. She confirmed to Wiseley that she had started punching Baldwin after putting her clothes on, but said she kept her boyfriend between them.
The victim testified that she had played a drinking game and had consumed about five beers before heading to Baldwin’s house with two beers. She said she sat on the lawn at Baldwin’s house for about 20 minutes before he arrived and invited her inside.
While waiting for Baldwin’s girlfriend to arrive, she said she remembers taking three to four shots of vodka from a bottle she and Baldwin shared.
“I used to drink all the time back then,” she said near the beginning of her testimony.
She added that she’s been sober for a year.
Officer Cave and Sgt. Winner, both with the Front Royal Police Department, gave their own separate testimonies of their response to the incident.
Cave said he responded to the 1400 block of John Marshall Highway at around 2:09 a.m. to find the victim “crying hysterically” and her boyfriend. Cave also said that he didn’t observe anyone entering or exiting the building and added that it was raining heavily at the time.
Winner, who investigated the case in 2013, brought photos of the victim’s injuries at the time, photos of the bedroom in question and the victim’s phone, which had been in custody since the investigation.
Wiseley introduced a three-minute audio clip – a voicemail that he said Baldwin left his girlfriend during the timeframe of the incident after accidentally dialing her number. In his closing arguments, Wiseley said the clip provided a “snapshot of the evening,” where Baldwin and the victim discussed alcohol and cheating.
“Does it sound like a rape in progress or does it sound like a seduction?” he asked Hupp of the end of the recording.
Wiseley also said that text messages on the victim’s phone showed that she and her boyfriend were breaking up and that she visited Baldwin “to get back at her boyfriend,” since they both knew Baldwin was still attracted to her.
He had asked the victim about a separate incident in December 2012 – one that Layton said the victim didn’t report to police. In that incident, the victim said she felt pressured into sex she didn’t want to have after accepting cocaine offered to her. She confirmed in court that she told friends she was raped. Layton later said that while she didn’t give full consent at that time, she did claim some responsibility for becoming very intoxicated.
Wiseley contended that a pattern of intoxication, consensual sex and purported sexual assault damaged her credibility as a witness.
“It’s the same pattern … she panics, and then she lies,” he said.
After deliberating in chambers, Hupp said that although Baldwin maintained that he was innocent in police interviews, his accounts of events changed and undermined his credibility. Hupp said the victim’s testimony was believable and checked out with the evidence presented. He also said the fact that the victim sought help directly after the incident also helped her case.
Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org