April 23, 2018
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Rumford man cleared of 10 of 11 charges in sex assault case

By Tony Reaves, Sun Journal

PARIS, Maine — A Rumford man accused of sexual assault was found not guilty on 10 of 11 counts in Oxford County Superior Court.

The jury was unable to reach a decision on the last charge against James V. Cole after nearly nine hours of deliberation Wednesday and Justice Robert Clifford declared a mistrial on the 11th charge.

Cole, 32, had been accused of sexually assaulting a young girl from the age of 10 until she was 15. The trial began on March 28.

As a clerk read the jury’s not guilty findings, Cole’s family hugged one another. The alleged victim’s family sat silent.

Assistant District Attorney Richard Beauchesne, who prosecuted the case, said he respected the jury’s decision and didn’t know yet whether he would seek a retrial on the last charge. He said he would speak with the family and take their considerations into account as well as his own legal opinion.

“The possibility of gathering additional evidence exists,” Beauchesne said, adding that he didn’t know whether it would improve the state’s case.

The charge on which the jury couldn’t agree alleged an incident on Jan. 28, 2008, in a Mexico storage locker. The girl reported the alleged assault the next day, and her clothes were taken as evidence.

According to a DNA analyst from the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory, sperm cells were found in the girl’s underwear that revealed a partial match with Cole’s DNA. Analyst Theresa Calicchio said there was too little sperm to get a complete profile, but that only 1 in 28 people could match the DNA found in the sperm cells, and that Cole was a potential match.

Cole’s attorney, Leonard Sharon, raised doubt about whether the DNA was Cole’s. He said the girl may have been having sex with her ex-boyfriend at the time, and pointed out that a DNA sample was never obtained from the boyfriend for comparison.

DNA from sperm on a blanket found inside the storage locker proved a closer match to Cole’s DNA and was mixed with a close match to the girl’s DNA. Cole said he had slept on the blanket with his ex-wife before it was moved to the storage locker.

After the verdict, Sharon said the case had been “ripe for reasonable doubt” because there was no collection of DNA from the girl’s ex-boyfriend or from Cole’s ex-wife. During the trial he also pointed out that several items of clothing worn by both Cole and the girl during the trial were never analyzed for DNA evidence.

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