BLOOMINGTON — A McLean County jury acquitted a 35-year-old Normal man Friday of sexual abuse allegations involving two teenage girls.
Man acquitted was charged with molesting two girls who were at a slumber party after the Oct. 15 Normal Community West High School homecoming dance.
After the not guilty verdict, defense lawyer Stephanie Wong called the case “a huge injustice.” She said Normal police ignored conflicting statements among witnesses and failed to attempt to collect forensic evidence.
Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner commented that the statements were taken as a cooperative effort between his department, prosecutors and the Children’s Advocacy Center.
“We felt the investigation was thorough and complete,” said Bleichner.
In closing arguments Friday, Assistant State’s Attorney Karle Koritz told jurors the accused took advantage of the situation in the home he was visiting. The defendant looked for excuses to go downstairs where seven girls were gathered.
“Common sense tells us a 34-year-old man has no business being in the basement with teenage girls at a slumber party,” said Koritz.
After the verdict, the prosecutor said “I’m very proud of the victims in this case for their courage on the night in question and during their testimony on the witness stand. The burden of proof favors the defendant and this case proves that.”
Wong argued that the case is “a perfect illustration as to why wrongful convictions occur.” She went on to characterize the alleged victims’ version of events as “wildly preposterous.”
In their testimony, the two teenage girls claim that they were fondled as they lay in bed. Koritz told jurors that it’s not surprising that “some minor details don’t agree” in the accounts. The teens experienced what could have been “the most stressful, scariest night of their life,” he said.
Wong noted that the accused family was “hugely relieved” he would be released after seven months in jail awaiting trial.