TAMPA — A political flap in Idaho involving a state lawmaker accused of lying on a concealed weapons permit application reaches more than 2,600 miles to — where else — Tampa.
Idaho Rep. Mark Patterson is defending himself against accusations that he never reported his arrest in Tampa in May 1974 on a charge of forcible rape. Though he told the Idaho Statesman that he has no recollection of the incident because a 2003 treatment of chemotherapy scrubbed his memories, he did say Tampa police lied about the circumstances that led to his arrest.
Now 61, Patterson told the newspaper that he was railroaded by police following a consensual sexual encounter with a woman he met at the Liberty Lounge on Kennedy Boulevard.
After two months in jail in 1974, Patterson entered into a plea agreement calling for five years probation. He ended up terminating his probation after two years. Adjudication was withheld, so he has no felony convictions on his record.
A 25-page, 1974 Tampa police report obtained by the Tribune on Tuesday lays out the circumstances as told to officers by Patterson and the unnamed victim.
According to the report, the then-46-year-old mother of five had a fight with her husband and headed out to meet with friends and have some drinks. She stopped at the Liberty Lounge and when she left, she was approached by a man in the parking lot who offered her a ride home. She told police that instead of taking her home, the man drove her to his apartment on South Brevard Avenue in Hyde Park, dragged her up the stairs and raped her.
In the apartment was a 90-pound Doberman Pinscher named Thor that the man used to threaten the woman, saying he would order the dog to attack if she did not comply, the woman said. She also told police the attacker told her he was a member of a motorcycle gang and if she told anyone of the incident, he would find her and make her pay.
The man eventually fell asleep and the woman got away and called police.
Patterson was arrested that night. He told police the woman approached him in the parking lot of the Liberty Lounge and asked for a ride home and that during the ride, she indicated she would be willing to have sex with him. He maintained the sex was consensual and said he never threatened her with the dog; that she became angry with him after he refused to give her a ride home or give her $10 for a cab.
Patterson was arrested and charged with forcible rape. Two months later, he entered a plea agreement with the state.
He told the Idaho newspaper his attorney told him to take the deal.
“I was a young kid,” the freshman Republican from Boise told the Statesman for a story printed Sunday. “I was charged with a crime I didn’t do. My attorney told me to take the deal. There would be no jail time, it would be off my record.”
His arrest, plea deal and sentence are public record, though he said he was railroaded by police. He said he has no recollection of the event.
“I’ve never read the police report,” Patterson told the Statesman. “I do know that the cops lied. And, you know, that’s one of the reasons I went ahead and took the deal because I shouldn’t even have been arrested.” Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said the officers and detectives who worked the case have long since moved on, but she stands by the report and the actions of the department taken in 1974.
“That was a long time ago, and there’s no one here to talk about the specifics of that case,” she said, “but, typically people who are not guilty don’t plead guilty. Why would you plead to something that you didn’t do?”
The controversy in Boise arose when a sheriff moved to revoke Patterson’s concealed weapons permit because, the sheriff maintains, the lawmaker falsely answered the question on the application that asked if he had ever been charged with a crime and entered into an agreement in which adjudication of guilt was withheld.
Attempts to reach Patterson on Tuesday were unsuccessful.