By Bill Wichert
SOMERVILLE - For [name withheld], a self-described “nightmare” has come to an end.
The 20-year-old Bridgewater resident was acquitted today of sexually assaulting a woman during a house party in Manville in October 2011. Before the six-day trial, [name withheld] had spent nearly a year in jail before being released on bail in May.
In an interview following the verdict, [name withheld] described the overall experience as a “nightmare” and said he had “put my trust in God.”
“When you’ve got a good life, a good family, good friends (and) you end up being falsely accused of something, it’s – it’s hard and you’ve got to deal with it, and I did just that,” [name withheld] said. “It was hard dealing with it, but I’m a confident person and I’m a strong believer in faith and that’s pretty much what got me through this whole thing.”
The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment on the verdict.
In closing statements on Wednesday, Assistant Prosecutor Tim Van Hise argued that the alleged victim was telling the truth about the sexual assault. The 20-year-old woman is not “capable of spinning a yarn…constructing a house of cards that’s gonna get past a bunch of adults,” Van Hise said.
But [name withheld]'s attorney, James Wronko, told jurors the woman was lying, and pointed out how a nurse found no signs of forced penetration on the woman. The defense claimed that [name withheld] and the woman, who were both 18 at the time, engaged in consensual sexual relations.
“Her story just wasn’t believable,” Wronko said today in an interview.
[name withheld], a former Hillsborough resident, said he plans “to go back to school and move on with my life.”
At the time of his arrest, [name withheld] had just finished his first semester at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, where he was studying criminal justice. [name withheld] said he was learning about the same legal system that he would soon experience first-hand.
“This is all too real right now,” [name withheld] said. “To be now in that seat where you’re facing judgment….it was a little shocking and overwhelming.”