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Kennedy Smith accuser talks Alleged assault 'will haunt me'

CHICAGO -- A woman who sued William Kennedy Smith said yesterday that he had assaulted her sexually five years ago ''in a manner that will haunt me to the day I die."

Smith, a Kennedy family member who has faced sexual assault charges before, denied attacking the woman, Andrea Soulias. He said she filed her civil lawsuit only after he refused to pay $3 million. Soulias said the power and money held by Smith's family was what had kept her silent for so long.

''Today I am putting William Kennedy Smith on notice," Soulias said at a news conference. ''You will not victimize another woman and be able to keep it silent, if I can help it." She did not take questions.

(The Boston Globe does not identify the alleged victims of sexual assault without consent. The Globe is using her name because Soulias spoke at the news conference, called by her attorney.)

Smith, 43, who was cleared of rape charges in 1991, said in a statement from a center for land-mine victims that he heads that his ''family and personal history have made me unusually vulnerable to these kinds of charges."

In 1991, a jury in West Palm Beach, Fla., acquitted Smith of sexual assault and battery on a then-30-year-old woman he met in a nightclub. He said sex between him and the accuser, Patricia Bowman, had been consensual.

Soulias, 28, who had worked for Smith, son of Jean Kennedy Smith, former ambassador to Ireland and nephew of Senator Edward M. Kennedy and the late President Kennedy, and said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court that he assaulted her in his bedroom in 1999. ''On January 16, 1999, my innocence was involuntarily taken from me by someone I trusted and respected," Soulias said in a quavering voice yesterday. ''It was taken from me in a manner that will haunt me to the day I die."

The Center for International Rehabilitation, which helps land-mine victims, issued a statement in which Smith, its president, called the allegations ''outrageous, untrue, and without merit."

''Ms. Soulias has demanded payment of $3 million," the statement said. Kevin O'Reilly, Soulias's lawyer, denied she had sought the money.

''Despite the time, energy, and resources that will be needlessly wasted fighting these allegations, the organization cannot in any way endorse her claims or agree to her unwarranted demands," Smith said in the statement.

Soulias is seeking at least $50,000 as compensation.

O'Reilly said Soulias, who quit her job working for Smith after about six months, has been unable to hold a job since.

O'Reilly said that she took her story to prosecutors two years ago but that they believed it would be too hard to prove. He said he did not know which prosecutors she had consulted.

O'Reilly said Smith had left several apologetic voice-mail messages after the incident, in which Smith said he had a problem and needed help. He said Soulias had played the messages for a friend but had not kept copies.

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