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

Trial of Spokane attorney accused of rape moved to August due to illness

The 78-year-old Spokane attorney charged with kidnapping and rape in a September 2014 incident will stand trial in August after receiving treatment for cancer.

Robert E. Caruso is not in custody for the crimes, which allegedly occurred after the one-time Spokane County prosecutor candidate picked up a 22-year-old woman following a car crash. A witness found the woman later that evening in nothing but her underwear, and she told police she’d been drugged and raped by Caruso before escaping his condo after he fell asleep.

Caruso’s defense questioned the investigation into the case prior to his arrest, saying witnesses were not contacted and the alleged victim’s story was fabricated. In court filings, Caruso’s attorney, David Partovi, said his client, “a longstanding pillar of the Spokane community,” is himself a victim of an “ongoing malicious prosecution.”

In the request for a trial continuance – the second in the rape case – Partovi said Caruso was diagnosed with colon cancer in summer 2015. The pain medication Caruso is taking would render him incapable of assisting in defense at a trial that was to begin earlier this month, Partovi said.

Judge Maryann C. Moreno decided in February that Caruso’s trial, which was scheduled to start this month, should be delayed until August.

Caruso made an unsuccessful bid to replace then-Prosecutor Steve Tucker in 2006. He was admonished in September by the Washington State Bar Association for removing an attorney in his private law firm from a case due to conflict of interest, without properly informing clients, according to state records.