When a Fort Myers woman accusing a former FIU business professor of a June 2016 drug-assisted rape died in a motorcycle crash, the case didn’t die with her.
Prosecutors still had the home surveillance video that police officers say showed David Ralston forcing himself on a barely conscious woman.
But Ralston’s attorneys hope that the fatal crash in July 2017 can give them access to the woman’s blood work. They’ve filed a motion in Lee County Circuit Court to force the state to hand over the toxicology report done on her corpse.
If they show the woman had Xanax, Valium and Restoril (an insomnia treatment) in her system at the time of the crash, the defense motion states, “it would support Defendant’s position that he did not administer the above-referenced substances to the Victim and the Victim voluntarily ingested the controlled substances found in her system.”
A defense filing says blood work done on May 1, 2016, two days after the alleged rape, showed the three drugs in the woman’s system. The same filing says she had a prescription for Xanax when she was arrested on a DUI charge on April 3, 2016, 26 days before the afternoon in question.
The DUI charge was dropped in August 2016. FIU jettisoned Ralston in 2016. He posted $100,000 bond the day after he was booked into Lee County jail.
Just over a year later, Ralston’s accuser was hurled from a motorcycle when the driver hit a curb. Fort Myers police said she died on the street. The driver survived and got tickets for failing to obey a traffic device and driving with a suspended license just 12 days later. He was not charged with the fatal crash.
U.S. Marshals arrested Ralston, who owned a Weston home at the time, at a Fort Lauderdale Days Inn on June 16, 2016, 16 days after the Lee County Sheriff’s Office thought it had arranged Ralston’s surrender and 20 days after a Lee sheriff’s detective said he watched surveillance video from April 29.
That’s the date of the woman’s third cleaning job at Ralston’s Fort Myers house.
She told sheriff’s detectives that Ralston offered her an afternoon drink. After drinking just a quarter of what she said Ralston described as an “extra strong” vodka and orange juice, she told investigators, she felt “drugged” and the last thing she remembered was lying on Ralston’s bed with pants and panties down. And she felt a vibration near her vagina.
Ralston told detectives he had made her the drink, but stepped out to talk with his lawn man. When he came back in, he claimed, there was less vodka in the bottle and his cleaning woman was flat on the ground outside after half a drink. Ralston said he hauled her into the bedroom where she remained out for 45 minutes. Upon rising, they got into an argument and the woman marched out.
Aside from what she said and he said, there’s what police say the video says.
(The woman) began kicking her legs violently, which caused David to stand up and he began wiping (the woman’s) breasts off and then cleaning his hands on her legs.
A Lee County Sheriff’s Office detective’s warrant request account of the surveillance video from David Ralston’s house.
The description on the warrant request describes Ralston beginning a massage before the two go inside. The woman comes back out 45 minutes later and slowly crumples onto the unfinished patio deck, unable to rise. Ralston emerges and begins fondling her, despite attempts to defend herself.
Ralson took off his shorts and her underwear, then continued fondling “for several minutes” before placing his penis in several places, including her mouth.
The detective says Ralston scooped up his clothes and ran inside while the woman couldn’t even sit up, “appearing to be heavily disoriented.” Ralston returns, gets her to her feet and inside at 1:58 p.m.
At 2:54, she leaves the house as Ralston shuts the door behind her. Shortly, the lawn maintenance guy finds her on the ground and whips out his cellphone to make a call. The woman’s husband shows up around 3:20 p.m. As he tries to open a door to his truck with one hand and hold her with the other, she crumples to the ground.
Her husband eventually gets her into the truck and they leave.