Washington Rape Suspect Wants Victims To View Videotapes Before Trial

PHOTO: Weldon Marc Gilbert
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A man accused of raping young boys and videotaping the incidents asked a judge to allow him to show the recordings to his alleged victims as he prepares to represent himself at trial.

Weldon Marc Gilbert, who is acting as his own attorney but has standby counsel, asked a judge on Monday to allow his lawyer to show the videotapes and interview the alleged victims, ABC News' Seattle affiliate KOMO reported.

Gilbert pleaded guilty to federal sex crimes and is serving a 25-year sentence. The Washington man now faces additional child exploitation charges in Pierce County Court.

"Our intention to show the videos during the pre-trial interviews is in no way an attempt to harass or embarrass these poor people involved in this thing," Gilbert said in court, according to KOMO.

Under Washington law, Gilbert has been allowed to review the state's evidence, which includes the graphic videotapes, from a private room in prison as he prepares for trial, although he is barred from watching the footage alone.

There is a precedent of accused rapists choosing to act as their own counsel, making it a challenge to balance the rights of the defendants with the rights of the victims, said Mary Fan, a professor at the University of Washington law school.

"[Gilbert] wants to prepare to get a sense of the government's evidence against him. He wants to be able to test the victim's recollection," she said. "Of course the concern is this could be a thinly disguised way to intimidate and perhaps re-victimize… which is why it is a best practice to appoint standby counsel."

Washington has a history of victims and accused rapists coming face-to-face on the stand.

In 2008, a Wallingford, Wash., woman was cross-examined in court by the man she said raped her while her children slept nearby. She has since tried to pass legislation that would shield victims from being questioned by their alleged attackers in court.

In 2010, a 21-year-old rape victim threatened to jump off the roof of King County Courthouse in Washington during the trial of her rapist, Salvador Cruz, who was scheduled to cross-examine her at his trial. Cruz was later convicted and sentenced to 53 years in prison.

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