Testimony in the trial of Alexandra V. Gaetan a former Tufts University lecturer accused of raping an Extension School student and forcing her to join him in a plot to blackmail a harvard professor, began Wednesday in Middlesex Superior Court.
The case unfolded last winter when Gladston Professor of Law Detlev F. Vagts fired the alleged victim from her job helping care for his elderly father because he suspected that she stolen jewelry from the family's Cambridge home.
On January 25, the day after her dismissal, she went to the police and charged that the professor had raped her in early December, only to retract the accusation three weeks later.
The woman then claimed that her boyfriend, Gaetan, had forced her file the false complaint as part of scheme to extort money from Vagts.
She accused Gaetan of raping her and threatening her with further injury if she didn't comply with his blackmail plot.
Gaetan was indicted on charges of rape, attempted extortion, assault and battery, threats, and the false report of felony. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The defense contended that Gaetan's girlfriend fabricated the charges against him as a cover-up when police doubted her allegations about Vagts.
"She's a liar and an extortionist," said defense attorney Thomas C. Troy.
"The police weren't believing her story about the professor so she shifted over to him [Gaetan] to save herself," he added.
Attorneys said yesterday that Vagts would probably be called to testify early next week.
"My testimony probably won't be terribly revealing," Vagts said earlier this week, adding that he would deny that he had raped the alleged victim a fact no longer in question.
Adam S. Cohen '84, associate managing editor of The Crimson, will likely be asked to testify as well, said Troy.
Cohen met with the alleged victim in February when she contacted The Crimson to publicize her accusations against Vagts.
Cohen's notes from that interview have been subpoenaed, and he could be called to take the stand as early as Tuesday, Troy said.
Yesterday, Troy cross-examined the defendant's ex girlfriend focusing on her history of admitted perjury and inconsistencies in her testimony about the details of the alleged rape.