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JUDGE SLAPS A GAG ORDER ON DEFENSE, PROSECUTORS, POLICE IN KENNEDY KIN CASE

A judge has slapped a gag order on police, prosecutors and defense attorneys in the William Kennedy Smith rape case.

In issuing the order Wednesday, Circuit Judge Mary Lupo said news coverage containing information inadmissible at trial could interfere with the selection of an impartial jury to hear the case against the 30-year-old doctor.The order was less sweeping than restrictions the judge outlined earlier.

The order covers law enforcement officials, defense attorneys and their investigators and all courtroom personnel.

It bars them from making statements outside court about the character, credibility, reputation or criminal record of Smith or the witnesses; the possibility of a plea or contents of any confessions; the results of any examination or test, and any opinion about Smith's guilt or innocence.

The judge originally considered barring commentary from virtually all trial participants, including Smith, his alleged victim and his uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

On Wednesday, those three and all other potential witnesses, except police, were excluded from the gag order.

The order allows factual or procedural aspects of the case to be discussed, including information in public records and scheduling of hearings.

Smith, 30, is accused of raping a woman at his family's Palm Beach estate on March 30. He goes on trial Aug. 5.

"In light of the prejudicial and inadmissible nature of material reported in the media, there exists a reasonable and substantial likelihood that a jury pool may be improperly influenced and selection of an impartial jury impaired," Lupo's order said.

News media attorneys had argued against the restrictions.