There was a knock at the door.
A 21-year-old north Bibb County nanny went to the door and saw a man she recognized from a crew that cleaned her employer’s home each week. She opened the door and let him in to use the phone.
In court Tuesday, the nanny testified that she didn’t expect what came next: The man beat, raped and sodomized her while threatening to kill both her and the 3-year-old girl she baby-sat.
Testimony began Tuesday in the trial of 44-year-old Rudolph Valentino Smith. Smith, of Macon, is charged with rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, kidnapping and burglary stemming from the May 1, 2008, incident.
The case has helped prompt a bill still pending in the state Legislature that would ban some felons from jobs that would send them into homes, unless their civil rights had been restored.
Before the rape charge was filed, Smith had been convicted of six felonies dating to 1986. The crimes ranged from robbery to voluntary manslaughter, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.
The prosecution plans to introduce evidence that authorities found strands of the nanny’s hair on some of Smith’s clothing when he was arrested the night of the attack, prosecutor Nancy Scott Malcor said in her opening statement Tuesday morning.
Smith’s attorney, Debra Gomez, reserved her opening statement until after the prosecution finishes presenting its case.
Pretrial motions filed by the defense suggest that Gomez may contend the nanny isn’t being truthful.
The nanny cried through most of her nearly two-hour-long testimony as she described day of the attack.
She said she was watching TV with the 3-year-old girl when she heard the knock at the door. Smith, dressed in a yellow Watkins Cleaning Service uniform shirt and jeans, immediately punched her after she gave him the cordless phone at the back door, she said.
“We fought,” she said, her voice cracking. “I tried to defend myself the best I could.”
After the nanny fell to the floor, Smith dragged her upstairs by her hair and pushed her into a bedroom and bathroom. At one point, she escaped his grasp and ran back downstairs, she testified.
But after jumping the last three steps, she twisted her ankle. She made it to the back door, but Smith caught her and forced her to the den, where the sex acts occurred, she said. The nanny testified that she gave up at one point and began praying, preparing herself.
“I pretty much thought I was going to die,” she said.
After the assault, Smith told the nanny to retrieve the child from her upstairs bedroom and to give him a ride home. The nanny acted as if she was going upstairs to get the girl, she testified.
But once she got out of Smith’s reach, she ran to the girl’s bedroom, where she locked them both in a closet and called 911, she said.
Robert Scott, one of the nanny’s employers, testified Tuesday that on his way home from picking up his sons at school, he noticed a man running on Bass Road wearing a yellow shirt and blue jeans. He later realized the man he saw was Smith, Scott testified.
Walking into his house, he noticed a broken, cordless phone on the floor and a drink had been spilled.
“I remember feeling a little bit of panic,” he said.
He found the door to his daughter’s room locked. After calling out to the nanny and his daughter several times, he got no response.
After a few minutes, the nanny opened the door, and he saw that she was on the phone with authorities reporting the attack. She was partially clothed and crying, he said.
A defense motion filed by Gomez suggests that the defense may contend that the nanny had a motive to lie because she filed a civil suit against the cleaning company that employed Smith and was awarded a $300,000 settlement.
The motion also suggests that the nanny could have been having an affair with Scott and would have had a motive to cover up the affair and frame Smith.
On the witness stand Tuesday, both the nanny and Scott denied having an affair.
The nanny did confirm that she received the settlement.
Testimony is scheduled to continue today.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.