Prosecutors want limits on McNamee questioning

June 21, 2011 - 6:30 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors asked a judge Tuesday to limit what baseball star Roger Clemens' attorneys can say in his upcoming steroids trial about a sexual assault investigation involving his chief accuser that the government lawyers said could "inflame the jury."

Clemens' former trainer, Brian McNamee, was questioned by Florida police after a woman reported being assaulted in a St. Petersburg hotel pool in October 2001. McNamee was never charged, but he was a suspect and admitted lying to police.

McNamee is the leading witness against Clemens and is expected to testify at trial scheduled to begin July 6 that he injected the pitching great with steroids and human growth hormone. Clemens' attorneys have consistently raised the Florida investigation as evidence that McNamee is a troubled man who cannot be trusted.

At the time, McNamee was an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the New York Yankees and had accompanied the team to a series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Police reports said McNamee was seen having sex with a drugged and incoherent woman in the hotel pool. The woman told police she could not remember what happened but she did not give McNamee permission to have sex with her, and witnesses reported hearing her saying, "No." The date rape drug GHB was found in her system.

The Yankees did not renew McNamee's contract after that season, but Clemens continued to work out privately with McNamee for years. Clemens' attorneys have said McNamee told Clemens he was falsely accused and had only been trying to pull her out of the pool.

Assistant U.S. attorneys Steven Durham and Daniel Butler wrote in a motion filed Tuesday that Clemens' lawyers have a right to ask McNamee whether he made false statements. They said they expect he will admit he lied when he said he didn't know another Yankees employee who was at the hotel and that he didn't know how the woman became incoherent.

But they asked U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to limit Clemens' attorneys from further questioning him or revealing the investigation was for a sexual assault or that McNamee was a suspect. They also said the defense should be prevented from introducing any outside evidence of what occurred.

"There is only one proper way for the defense to elicit evidence of McNamee's misstatements to the Florida authorities: by asking him whether he made misstatements," the prosecutors wrote. "Once Mr. McNamee answers that question, the matter is done."

The prosecutors said such limits will "assure defendant's ability to engage in meaningful cross-examination as to Mr. McNamee's character for truthfulness, without distracting the jury by inflammatory, unduly prejudicial evidence, and by a side-show mini-trial of collateral issues."

The prosecutors said they have given Clemens the entire police file, including a transcript of McNamee's voluntary interview, but are keeping the police file out of public records to protect the identity of the woman involved.

Clemens has been charged in a six-count indictment with lying during his 2008 testimony before a congressional committee investigating performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. He has steadfastly denied the charges.

Trial is expected to last four to six weeks in federal court in Washington, just a couple of blocks from where Clemens testified before Congress. The prosecutors wrote Tuesday that the large volume of evidence "makes this case out of the ordinary and unlike many other white collar criminal cases."

The prosecutors revealed Tuesday that they expect to call about 45 witnesses, including officials from Congress, Major League Baseball and expert witnesses who will testify about scientific evidence — presumably from the syringes that McNamee said he used to inject Clemens.

They said they will use electronic displays in the courtroom to show the jury evidence, including Clemens' own statements from the hearing, his deposition, media interviews, telephone calls and email.

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