Hypercom Confidential

Page 5 of 9

"I went to the house, entered with a key that had been provided to me, and found Mr. Gonzalez waiting there drunk, angry and aggressive. He overpowered me, forced me to a backroom, threw me on the bed, forcibly removed my pantyhose, and brutally sodomized me. I pleaded with him to stop to no avail. As soon as I was able to escape Mr. Gonzalez, I left the house."

Smith says she called an operator on her car phone and asked for a rape crisis agency. A counselor urged her to go to a hospital, and she did -- to Thunderbird Samaritan, where she earlier had taken the sick engineer.

She says a doctor examined her in the emergency room and treated her for lacerations. But Smith wouldn't allow the doctor to use a "rape kit" -- which preserves evidence -- after he told her that would require him to call the police.

Smith says she went to the then-head of human resources the next day to ask for a job transfer. Again, from her affidavit:

"I did not tell him what had happened the night before for a number of reasons; I could ill afford to lose my job since it was the first job I'd had in eight years. . . . I was in the midst of an acrimonious divorce -- my husband was seeking custody, was not working, and was paying nothing towards our support. I was again told . . . that Mr. Gonzalez was extremely important to the company, that it would be 'political suicide' for me to transfer. . . . He further instructed me that I should go along with whatever Mr. Gonzalez needed me to do."

Smith says she told Maryanne Lawson -- then Hypercom's director of international marketing and another of Gonzalez's alleged victims -- about the rape a few days later. (Smith says Lawson never confided in her about her own experiences with Gonzalez, though she suspected something had happened. Lawson could not be reached for comment.)

Hypercom transferred Smith to an almost-completed warehouse on Deer Valley Road. Her job was to organize the new facility for its January 1997 opening.

Smith wasn't working directly for Gonzalez anymore -- she actually was working for his father, Jairo Gonzalez Sr., whom she says treated her respectfully. But when the elder man started to ask her to run errands for his son, she says she again complained to the human resources director, to no avail.

One of those errands in early September 1997 was to go to Gonzalez's home on East Orangewood to tell a housekeeper what to pack for his pending move to another residence. The housekeeper was there -- Smith's attorney says the maid will testify if the case goes to trial -- but Gonzalez sent her on errands. While the woman was gone, Smith alleges, Gonzalez raped her again.

"I returned to the warehouse in a near catatonic state and tried to block out the entire incident," she recalls.

The third alleged rape happened later that month, at a north Phoenix residence that Hypercom had leased for Gonzalez. Smith says Gonzalez had been overseas, and she'd been assigned to get the residence ready for him. When he returned, however, he told her to come over and show him how to use the security system.

She says she obeyed him.

"I was terrified, and I can't believe I did that," she says. "It was like I was out of my mind. I was hoping he wouldn't be there, and when he was and started doing his thing and he overpowered me, I just let him. I didn't fight, and I didn't tell anyone afterward."

Two facts about sexual assaults:

One-on-one cases are notoriously difficult to prove in court.

And a litany of studies show that many women don't report rapes, especially in the workplace. Tascha Boychuk, a nurse and forensic interviewer who testified for Smith at the recent hearing, told Judge Burke that women often keep quiet to survive economically, and to avoid having to reveal their guilt and shame.

Boychuk added, "It would not be inconsistent for [Smith] to have a variety of feelings" for Gonzalez, even though he allegedly had brutalized her.

Though Smith's mental condition was fragile at best -- "I'd cry constantly when my boys weren't around, and I was a total mess," she says -- she resolved to try to go about her business.

In mid October 1997, John Murphy came into her life.

John Murphy has been in the human resources field for three decades, including a 16-year stint with IBM.
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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin