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Al Garcia, recently convicted for drug possession, starts rape trial

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Al Garcia, once a powerful and connected figure in local politics, is starting his second criminal trial of the year, this one for allegedly raping one of the clients of his defense practice.

The case, being heard in Hennepin County Court by Judge Philip Bush, began with opening statements today from prosecutor Darren Borg and Garcia's lawyer, Paul Edlund. The rest of the morning was devoted to the softly spoken testimony of the woman Garcia is accused of raping, who told how she met him at his downtown office late one evening in 2008 to discuss her case.

In the office, she said, Garcia proceeded to force and threaten her into a cocaine-dusted sexual assault. She said she was only able to escape when Garcia, in his coked-up paranoia, with his pants around his ankles, crawled behind a desk to hide from people he was sure were lurking outside.

The cross-examination of Garcia's accuser begins this afternoon.