Plaintiff in Hecht case asks for new trial
A Florida woman who unsuccessfully sued Aspen investment fund manager Nikos Hecht for rape and assault last month in federal court filed a motion Wednesday asking for a new trial.
Suzanna Dailey, 68, claims she was denied a fair trial because the judge erroneously blocked the jury from hearing certain pieces of evidence that unfairly prejudiced her case, according to court documents.
“(There) were a number of pretrial and trial rulings that prejudiced (Dailey’s) ability to tell her story, leaving open questions for the jury about many important details that they should have been able to consider when rendering their verdict,” according to the motion filed Wednesday in federal civil court. “In short, (Dailey) was constrained in her ability to demonstrate to the jury that they could not and should not believe defendant Hecht or his fabrications.”
A message left with one of Hecht’s lawyers Wednesday was not returned.
Dailey alleged that after a March 2014 dinner at a restaurant in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, which included Hecht’s then-wife and three children as well as Dailey’s 90-year-old mother, he asked her to go for a stroll in the gardens and then raped her when they were out of sight.
The four-day trial took place in Denver last month, where both sides related diametrically different accounts of what happened that evening.
Dailey said that when they were about 60 feet down a garden path, Hecht, 47, grabbed her by the back of neck, forcibly kissed her, threw her to the ground and raped her. Hecht, in turn, said Dailey was the aggressor who talked dirty to him, kissed him first, performed oral sex on him, then took off her shorts and his pants and invited him to her.
The jury of five women and two men took just 45 minutes to decide that Hecht neither raped nor assaulted Dailey and that the sexual encounter was consensual.
In the motion filed Wednesday, Dailey said U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson erred when he declined to allow the jury to hear evidence that Hecht took prescription opioids the night of the alleged rape. Hecht allegedly admitted to taking the drug Percocet, which would have caused the jury to question his recollection of the events that night, the motion states.
In addition, contradictory statements Hecht has made about whether his doctor in Mexico gave him opioids should have been allowed into the case because it would have caused the jury to question his credibility, according to the motion.
Another reason for a new trial is that the court did not allow contradictory evidence about Hecht’s alleged close relationship with his family, the motion alleges.
“At this same time (of the 2014 Mexico trip), he was texting his mistress that his kids were killing him,” according to Dailey’s motion. “Also, two weeks before he sexually assaulted Ms. Dailey, he texted his mistress that he hated his wife.”
The court also should have allowed Dailey to introduce evidence of Hecht’s guilty plea in Pitkin County Court in February 2016 to misdemeanor harassment and domestic violence so she could refute his claims in his deposition that he never hurt or threatened a woman, the motion states. The plea was in connection to an incident in July 2015 between Hecht and his then-girlfriend.
Finally, the court erred when it refused to allow Dailey to testify as to why she waited to accuse Hecht of rape, according to the motion. Dailey first decided not to pursue claims against Hecht, and only came forward to Aspen area law enforcement with the rape allegation after reading about him being charged with domestic violence in the newspaper.
Jackson allowed Dailey to testify that she called Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo after reading the newspaper, but not about what was in the article. That allowed Hecht’s lawyers to misrepresent her motivations, according to the motion.
Hecht has asked the court to order Dailey to repay him more than $180,000 in expenses he incurred for the trial. The court has not yet ruled on that request.
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