- Daphne Duret Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
A previous rape allegation made in New York by the Jupiter woman who claims a 57-year-old Uber driver raped her in Palm Beach County in May has rocked the local case.
A trial was supposed to begin in Palm Beach County Circuit Court this month for Gary Kitchings, a foster home worker who was moonlighting as an Uber driver when he was arrested after a woman said he sexually assaulted her as he drove her home from SunFest, then followed her inside her house and raped her there.
But Circuit Judge Krista Marx postponed the trial last week after Kitchings’ attorney, Assistant Public Defender Stephen Abruzow, told her that he learned through a pretrial interview with the victim that she accused another man of raping her in New York about a year ago.
According to court records filed by Abruzow on Oct. 3, the woman described the alleged prior attack as “an online date that had gone wrong.” In the court files, Abruzow said that upon further research, he found out that the prior rape claim was the subject of an article in the New York Post, and the article said the alleged victim was working as a prostitute specializing in sado-masochistic acts.
When Abruzow asked the woman if she had ever worked as an escort or prostitute, she denied ever having done so, according to the filing by Abruzow.
“Defense counsel did further investigation that confirmed many of the allegations in the New York Post article,” Abruzow said in his court filing, adding: “Given the untruths and incomplete answers (that the woman) provided, defense counsel needs a continuance to investigate these allegations and consult with an expert.”
Abruzow also said he believes the woman’s ex-husband and her boyfriend may have information important to Kitchings based on her answers to other questions. Abruzow told Marx he probably will have to travel to New York to interview them.
In granting Abruzow’s request, Marx postponed the trial for five months, setting the start for jury selection at March 2.
At the time of the alleged Palm Beach County rape, Kitchings — the father of an adopted child and husband to a woman fighting cancer — was a “house parent” at the KidSanctuary faith-based foster care home in suburban West Palm Beach. According to property records, Kitchings owns a home in Palm Bay, but the address for him in jail records was that of the KidSanctuary campus.
On May 7, 2017, a Jupiter police officer met the alleged victim at her home and she was later interviewed by a detective at her home. She told them she had called for an Uber earlier in the day while at SunFest in West Palm Beach, and took a screenshot of her confirmation message showing a driver was on his way because she’d been having some billing issues with the ride-sharing app.
The screenshot identified her driver as “Gary” and showed the license plate number for a 2016 silver Nissan Versa registered to Kitchings.
The woman said Kitchings picked her up, then picked up and dropped off two other women during the ride. She told police that after he dropped the others off, he began to verbally flirt with her, then tried to rub her leg and put his hand up her shirt. According to her report to police, she said she pushed Kitchings’ hand away twice, then a third time after he allegedly tried to pull her hand toward his groin.
By then, Kitchings was exiting Interstate 95 at Donald Ross Road, she told police.
“As they were eastbound, she tried to open the door and jump out, but it was locked,” according to the arrest report by Detective Troy Jenne. “The victim advised that Kitchings saw this and told her that he had a gun under the seat and if she didn’t do what he wanted, he would kill her.”
It was then, according to the woman’s account to police, that Kitchings forced her into a sex act and at one point urinated on her.
She said they arrived at her house soon afterwards, and she believed that Kitchings was going to drive away after she got out and ran to her house.
Instead, she said, Kitchings came up behind her as she was opening the door, forced her inside and raped her. According to the arrest report, she told police she began to scream before the rape, but Kitchings told her “he would ‘kill her and her dogs, if she didn’t shut up.’”
She said Kitchings didn’t pull out a gun during the attack, but she thought she saw one under his shirt.
“I kept screaming help, but nobody came to help me,” she said in a 911 call, according to the report.
Jenne said in his report that a subsequent search of Kitchings’ Facebook page showed several photos and videos of him shooting a gun.
Kitchings faces two charges of sexual battery and one count each of false imprisonment and burglary with battery.