Wednesday, January 31
Experts testify they can't be sure



WAUKESHA, Wis. -- Injuries found on a teenager who accuses former Green Bay Packers tight end Mark Chmura of sexually assaulting her do not necessarily mean she was assaulted, two defense witnesses testified Wednesday.

Chmura's attorney, Gerald Boyle, asked Dr. Joseph Zeccardi if he thought a sexual assault occurred, based on police records and a report from a nurse who examined Chmura's accuser.

"I'm not sure I can give you a medically certain conclusion," Zeccardi said.

The teen, a former baby sitter for Chmura's two sons, says Chmura pulled her into a bathroom, pulled down her pants and had sex with her without her consent during a post-prom party at his friend Robert Gessert's Hartland, Wis., home April 9.

Chmura, 31, has pleaded innocent to third-degree sexual assault and child enticement charges, both felonies. He could face up to 40 years in prison and $20,000 in fines.

Zeccardi said Wednesday wet clothing or an ill-fitting swim suit also could have caused the redness and abrasion attributed to the alleged sexual assault.

Zeccardi is a New Jersey pediatric emergency physician who has worked with the FBI to develop procedures for sexual assault examinations.

He testified he would expect to find a similar abrasion on Chmura, but an examination immediately after Chmura's arrest April 10 found none.

Debra Donovan, the nurse who examined the teen hours after the party, has testified she found the teen's hymen was still intact.

Zeccardi said he would expect the hymen to tear during a short and sudden assault such as Chmura's accuser has described.

Page Verlander, a supervisor of sexual assault nurse examiners at a Virginia hospital, also testified she couldn't be sure whether a sexual assault occurred.

Verlander said she would have expected Chmura's accuser to have more injuries.

Verlander also said she would have done a more thorough exam of the teen, searching for saliva containing DNA and also applying dye to the injuries that would have highlighted tears or cuts.

Both Verlander and Zeccardi also testified that Donovan should not have written in her report that Chmura's accuser's injuries were consistent with sexual assault.

"I would counsel that individual that I didn't feel we should be drawing conclusions," Zeccardi said.

During cross-examination, Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher asked Zeccardi if he was aware many nurses make judgments because they are obligated to tell police if they think an assault has occurred.

Zeccardi said he didn't believe that.

Chmura, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, joined the Packers in 1992 out of Boston College. He appeared in two Super Bowls with Green Bay, but missed most of the 1999 season with a neck injury. The team cut him in June after he was charged.

An 18-year-old woman has accused Gessert of fondling her in a hot tub at the party.

Gessert has pleaded innocent to second-degree sexual assault and fourth-degree sexual assault. His trial is scheduled for March. If convicted he faces up to 30 years and nine months in prison and up to $20,000 in fines.




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