His Darkest Hour

updated 10/06/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/06/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

FOR NBC SPORTSCASTER MARV Albert, accused of assaulting a former mistress and forcing her to have sex, his trial, which began in Arlington, Va., on Sept. 22, was like a rigged coin flip: heads he would lose, tails he would lose more. If convicted, Albert, 56, could face upward of five years in prison. Even if found not guilty, though, he will be left with a humiliatingly compromised reputation. Whether or not he is, as Common-wealth attorney Richard E. Trodden described him, a "coarse and crude" abuser, his own attorney Roy Black was compelled to admit in his opening argument that his client had unconventional sexual preferences, including a taste for rough sex.

On the trial's second day, the accuser, a 42-year-old divorced mother of two, took the stand and, in graphic detail, gave her version of how her 10-year affair with Albert, a divorced father of four grown children, had come to a disastrous end last Feb. 12 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pentagon City near Washington. She said he had called her several times that day, asking her to bring someone else along for sex, as he sometimes had before. After she arrived at his room alone, she said, they watched a pornographic movie. But Albert became angry after she put on a robe; she said he then hurled her to the bed, bit her on the back and forced her to perform oral sex.

In his cross-examination, Black sought to show that the sex was consensual. "You can see teeth marks, but this is not aggressive biting," he had told the jury earlier. Black, who had described the woman as a collector of celebrities who enjoyed boasting of her affairs, also produced a tape of a conversation in which she was heard encouraging a cab driver to testify that Albert had wanted him to procure a "boy." "You know what to say," she told the man on the tape. The woman insisted she was merely urging the driver to tell the truth, but Black contended she was out to frame Albert after he had told her that he was planning to marry Heather Faulkiner, 39. "Hopefully," Black had declared earlier, "in this country being successful and well known...is not enough to convict you of a crime." Whether or not the jury concludes that this is an issue in the case, the risk of exposure that accompanies fame has already been made painfully clear to his client.

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