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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane attorney’s condo searched after rape allegation

An attorney who made a failed bid to be Spokane County prosecutor eight years ago is under investigation for rape.

The allegations are contained in public records filed in connection with a search warrant.

An attorney for Robert E. Caruso, 76, calls the allegations “completely false” and said the woman’s story is “uncorroborated.”

“Bob made a mistake trying to help that girl,” the attorney, David Partovi, said Thursday.

Caruso has not been arrested. His lawyer said Caruso voluntarily submitted to a DNA test in an effort to prove his innocence.

Police said in the document, a declaration for a search warrant, that a 22-year-old woman told them she had been in a car crash Saturday at Maple Street and Interstate 90 when Caruso drove by and offered to help her. She told police that Caruso instead drove her to his condominium on the South Hill, where he drugged and raped her despite her injuries from the car accident, according to the records.

Partovi said police have not questioned Caruso’s neighbors and other potential witnesses.

A neighbor who lives in an adjacent apartment said Thursday that she was home all night Saturday and heard no noises from Caruso’s apartment, despite the walls being “paper thin.”

“I didn’t hear anything,” said the neighbor, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Not a single thing.”

She said it was common to hear Caruso, who she’s known for more than two years, move around in the apartment.

The alleged victim told police she’d attempted to scream for help but was unable to resist Caruso because she was drugged.

The search warrant lists physical evidence, including the woman’s clothing, found by police in Caruso’s condo. The documents filed Wednesday say police also found evidence that supported her version of events, including pills and a pair of handcuffs dangling from the headboard.

A witness told police that he found the woman hiding in an alleyway wearing only underwear. The woman told police she escaped when Caruso became unconscious late Saturday.

During his run for office against Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Tucker in 2006, Caruso received 36 percent of the vote.

Caruso’s professional conduct has been questioned in the past, including just last month when the Washington State Court of Appeals removed him from a divorce case after he and his client appealed sanctions imposed during child custody proceedings.

A trial court had found that Caruso and his client “engaged in a course of conduct intended to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation.” They were ordered to pay $55,000 in attorney fees and costs.

Caruso’s appeal argued that he and his client should not have to pay, but if they did, his client should foot the bill. Appellate court judges declared his representation a conflict of interest and barred him from representing the client in further matters.

Caruso is a partner in a private practice law firm in Spokane. He was not available for comment there Thursday.