Family creates stir in courtroom

EVERETT – Tensions grew heated Wednesday at a Bedford County man’s preliminary hearing on a rape charge, culminating in a confrontation and a disorderly conduct charge for the suspect’s brother.

Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, Dominic Bruce Foster, 31, of Manns Choice appeared incredulous as a woman, an adult family member, described an alleged three-hour rape in disturbing detail.

“He came charging upstairs to the bedroom,” the alleged victim said. “I could smell alcohol.”

Seated alone between District Attorney Bill Higgins and defense attorney Thomas M. Dickey, the alleged victim told Magisterial District Judge Kathy S. Calhoun that she had locked her front door on April 6 and gone to bed when Foster arrived about midnight, demanding to be let in.

He then assaulted her, she alleged, angrily ordering her to be quiet each time she resisted. She recalled worrying that the noise would wake two young children, asleep in neighboring rooms.

“I debated on running, but I was afraid because he has guns. I didn’t know what he was going to do,” she said.

When Foster fell asleep, the alleged victim drove to UPMC Bedford Memorial hospital’s emergency room, where staff called an abuse agency and state police, she said.

Dickey sought to poke holes in the accuser’s story, questioning the chain of events and asking repeatedly whether the sex was forced or consensual. His detailed cross-examination raised tense arguments with Higgins and Calhoun, who accused Dickey and Foster of laughing throughout the accuser’s testimony.

Dickey asked that Calhoun drop the charges or reduce Foster’s bail – both of which the magistrate denied.

“If you review the transcript, I don’t think she ever said she was raped by [Foster],” he said, seeking to eliminate the rape charge before trial.

Higgins mocked the suggestion that the alleged victim was describing anyone else.

“She didn’t stand up and say, ‘Yeah, that’s the man who raped me,'” Higgins said, pointing dramatically. “But this isn’t TV.”

When Calhoun denied the motion to reduce bail, Foster’s family – scattered around the courtroom in what Higgins called “a whole entourage” – left angrily, with his brother, Dillon Foster, apparently slamming the courtroom door loudly.

Court officers and police chased the family outside, where Higgins and another relative shouted at one another, demanding apologies. Prisoners wearing jumpsuits, waiting to complete their own cases in a side room, laughed at the squabble.

A state police trooper cited Dillon Foster for disorderly conduct after witnesses said he’d slammed the door.

Accused earlier of filling the court with Foster’s relatives as a threat to the alleged victim, Dickey angrily defended himself.

“It’s a public hearing, I believe,” he said. “Even in Bedford County, it’s a public hearing.”

Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.