Man, 19, cleared in sex assault

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Posted Dec. 16, 2009, at 3:22 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A local man now enrolled in art school in Boston was acquitted Wednesday of charges that he sexually assaulted an acquaintance after she had blacked out at a party in Eastbrook in June 2008.

A jury of six men and six women deliberated for 2½ hours in Hancock County Superior Court before finding Logan Will, 19, not guilty of gross sexual assault, assault, and attempted gross sexual assault. The verdict was announced shortly before 2 p.m.

Reaction in the courtroom to the verdict was muted. There were audible sighs of relief from Will’s friends and family seated in the courtroom gallery. On the other side of the courtroom, where the alleged victim sat with her family and friends, there was silence.

After the verdict, Will hugged relatives and friends in the courtroom and a few moments later walked out a free man. Will’s family and that of the victim, through attorneys, declined to comment after the trial. Both families quickly left the courthouse.

Will’s attorney, Walter McKee, said the not-guilty verdict was a relief to his client.

“It’s been a long year and a half waiting for trial,” McKee said. “He’s in college. He’s in the middle of his second year.”

Will is a student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he is studying sculpture, McKee said.

In his closing arguments, McKee had emphasized that despite the fact that four people testified they saw Will either having sex with the unresponsive young woman or partially naked with her, no forensic evidence showed there had been any physical contact between Will and the woman, who is now 19.

“If that was the case, we would have seen something there,” McKee said, referring to clothing that Will had been wearing during the alleged incident and that later was seized and tested by police. “The problem in this case is that they didn’t find anything.”

Will’s trial, which began Monday, ended Wednesday with Will as the final witness. Under cross-examination by District Attorney Michael Povich, Will testified he had been drunk and did not remember everything that happened at the gathering, which was held at a cabin on Stone Dam Road on June 4, 2008.

Will told the jury, however, that he had no memory of raping the alleged victim, because he did not rape her.

“I would know if I was doing that,” he said.

Will said he remembered climbing over the woman into a bunk bed on the cabin’s second floor so he could sleep, then waking up after someone grabbed him and threw him to the floor by the bed. He said he did not remember what happened in between those moments.

“Everyone was screaming at me and yelling that I had raped [the victim],” he said.

Povich said after the proceeding that the young woman’s family had been prepared for the possibility of a not-guilty verdict. He said the woman and her family were holding up well and just want to move on with their lives.

Povich said the fact that there was no forensic evidence implicating Will, in an era when television police dramas such as “CSI” and “NCIS” emphasize the importance of such evidence, likely swayed the jury.

“It tends to trump eyewitness testimony,” he said.

Still, the prosecutor said he was “somewhat perplexed” that the testimony of four people who said they saw some stage or another of the alleged assault did not convince the jury that such a crime had occurred. It is rare in a sexual assault case, he said, to have even one witness to the crime besides the victim and the defendant.

“You hardly ever get that,” Povich said.

Between 15 and 20 people, most of whom were students at Ellsworth High School at the time, attended the gathering, which began after a year-end awards ceremony at the school. The next morning, many of the people at the party were expected to attend graduation practice at the high school.

Several people who were at the party testified at the trial that friends of the alleged victim put her to bed upstairs at the cabin after she had consumed large quantities of watermelon-flavored Smirnoff vodka. She had gotten sick and was starting to become unresponsive, so they put her upstairs and checked on her every few min-utes to make sure she was OK, they testified.

It was during one of those checks that one of the partygoers allegedly found Will having sex with the unresponsive woman. After people ran upstairs to intervene, Will was dragged downstairs, thrown out of the cabin, and later driven down the road and dropped off at a nearby gravel pit.

Several people testified that the woman remained unresponsive throughout the incident and had to be dressed by other people. When she awoke the next morning, she had no memory of what happened and only found out about the alleged assault after her friends told her.

btrotter@bangordailynews.net

460-6318

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/12/16/news/man-19-cleared-in-sex-assault/ printed on August 27, 2014