Case Charging Couple In Assault Expected To Go To Jury Today

Posted: November 10, 1988

Prosecutor Karen Coletta told a jury that a Sri Lankan woman "went through a living hell" in the four months that an Ambler couple is accused of

sexually and physically abusing her in their home.

In her closing argument yesterday, Coletta said the couple used "a 19- year-old girl alone in this country" and away from her native land for the first time.

The prosecutor charged that Amitha Nanayakkara raped the woman on her first night in the United States in July 1987. When his wife, Yvonne Dorothy, returned home from Sri Lanka several days later "she joined her husband in using" the woman.

Defense attorney Lawrence Kalikow, who represented Amitha Nanayakkara, urged the jury to "look beyond the tears, and look at the evidence presented in this case." He said the woman was angry at the Nanayakkaras for not giving her enough money and for not acting quickly enough to help her mother come to the United States.

The case was expected to go to the Montgomery County jury this morning.

Amitha and Yvonne Dorothy Nanayakkara of South Chestnut Street in Ambler are accused of sexually abusing a 20-year-old woman they met in Sri Lanka and brought to their home in July 1987.

The Nanayakkaras, who are also Sri Lankan, agreed that the woman could come to the United States as a mother's helper.

Amitha Nanayakkara has been charged with two counts of rape, two counts of involuntary deviant sexual intercourse and indecent assault.

Yvonne Nanayakkara has been charged with two counts of involuntary deviant sexaul intercourse and indecent assault.

The Nanayakkaras were arrested on Dec. 11 after the woman gave the Ambler police a statement that she had been sexually abused over a five-month period in 1987.

Yvonne Nanayakkara, 39, testified in her own defense on Tuesday that her husband indicated that the young woman, on her first morning in the United States, asked him to marry her so she could stay in this country.

Yvonne Nanayakkara, who was in Sri Lanka with her four sons at the time, said that when she returned to Ambler a few days later she took the woman aside and reprimanded her.

"Why do you say things like that?" Nanayakkara said she asked the young woman. "It's impossible. I'm married to him."

She testified that the young woman stayed by Amitha Nanayakkara's side frequently during her five months of work as a cook and cleaning person.

"I felt she was trying to take my place," Yvonne Nanayakkara testified. But she didn't confront the young woman again about the problem, she said.

She testified that no assaults of the woman had ever taken place.

On cross-examination by the prosecution, Yvonne Nanayakkara said she did see her husband and the young woman in a "struggle" over a letter the young woman had written home and was asking someone else to deliver.

Her husband "was talking in loud tones" to the young woman, she said. ''He had a letter in his hands. They were struggling for it. She was clutching it to her chest. She was trying to keep it. He was trying to pull it out of her hands."

The defense also introduced testimony to show that the young woman was romantically involved with her brother-in-law in Sri Lanka.

The defense also brought into testimony phone records that differed with the young woman's account of her phone calls to Sri Lanka. The records also listed phone calls made from Amitha Nanayakkara's office at a time when the woman said he had been at the Ambler home.

Yvonne Nanayakkara told the court that, while on vacation in July 1987, she and her husband were approached by the young woman and her brother-in-law, who were holding hands, in a duty-free shop in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The young woman, she said, held a passport and wanted to come to the United States.

The Nanayakkaras were looking for a mother's helper and agreed to assist her if she would help with chores in the Nanayakkaras' home in the United States.

Amitha Nanayakkara, 46, who testified for about four hours Monday afternoon, denied that he and his wife sexually or physically abused the woman on any occasion, and said she was free to come and go from the house. The woman had testified that Nanayakkara had threatened to kill her if she left the house without his permission.

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