ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Hancock County jury has acquitted a Surry man on charges of unlawful sexual contact.
The jury found George Gray, 42, not guilty on a felony charge of unlawful sexual contact involving a 6-year-old girl last year and a misdemeanor charge of unlawful sexual touching, after a two-day trial last week in Hancock County Superior Court.
According to the attorneys in the case, Gray was accused of touching the girl while she was staying at his home in December 2007. The girl had been sleeping on the floor of a room when the alleged incident took place.
Defense attorney Andrew Slater said that although investigators did a good job in collecting evidence in the case, that evidence did not prove his client had committed the crime. The evidence showed, he said, that Gray could not have touched the girl in the way the prosecution charged.
“None of the witnesses came across with a story that was believable,” he said.
Slater further claimed the case never should have come to court. It was disturbing, he said, that the girl, who is now 7 years old, had to testify.
“Putting that young lady through the emotional trauma of a trial when the evidence clearly did not warrant it is outrageous,” Slater said. “The state never claims the responsibility for the harm it does to children.”
Hancock County Assistant District Attorney Mary Kellet said Tuesday that this type of case, involving sexual touching, is often difficult for juries, although she declined to speculate on how the testimony might have affected this jury.
“You’re often dealing with the issue of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’” Kellet said. “In this type of case, there is no physical evidence to present. It comes down to one person’s word against another’s. It’s not easy for a jury to find a person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Kellet said her office often decides not to take a case involving a child to trial based on the victim’s credibility and the wishes of the family. In this case, she said, the witness was credible and very consistent in her testimony, and she had no reason not to tell the truth about what happened.
“I am an advocate, not a judge,” she said.
Slater said Gray was pleased with the jury’s decision but was upset over the amount of time it took for the case to come to trial. Gray was on probation for a previous drug conviction when the alleged incident took place, and has been held in jail for 10 months awaiting trial.