Friday, March 23, 2012

Jury acquits Olean man of sex crimes in retrial

By Donna Snyder- Buffalo News

After two trials and an appeal to a higher court, an Olean man was acquitted Thursday by a jury in Cattaraugus County Court of sex crimes dating back to 2004.
Timothy L. Jerge, 33, of Pine Street, was acquitted on three charges after the jury deliberated for less than two hours. Judge M. William Boller of Erie County presided.
Jerge faced grand jury charges of second- degree sexual abuse, second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child between 2004 and 2009 in the City of Olean involving two or more acts of sexual contact with a child under age 13.
Jerge’s attorney, Fern S. Adelstein of Olean, said, “My client broke down sobbing” when he heard the verdict. “Justice has finally been served. I didn’t think the people had enough credible evidence to support the charges.”
This week’s trial was actually a retrial of the charges against Jerge, as the first trial held in September 2010 found him guilty of those same charges.
At that time, Judge Larry M. Himelein, who presided over the first trial, denied a motion from Adelstein to set aside the verdict based on juror misconduct. He set sentencing for November 2010.
Adelstein said the verdict Thursday proved that Jerge’s conviction was because of juror misconduct.
That jury’s decision was appealed to the State Supreme Court Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department. the court granted him the new trial in a decision released Dec. 23, 2011.
The Appellate Court called for the new trial due to a technicality involving the jury, “that two jurors interjected their professional knowledge into the jury deliberations. By voicing professional opinions that were not the subject of expert testimony at trial,” according to the decision.
The two jurors were identified as a Social Services Department caseworker and a licensed substance abuse counselor.
The court decision said the two jurors made statements to other jurors, such as, “We deal with this every day [and] this is the pattern of how these things normally take place.”
A juror questioned about the statements said he’d been swayed in voting to convict Jerge.
Further, the Appellate Court said Himelein, in denying Jerge’s motion for dismissal of the conviction, “erred in concluding that it was common knowledge that victims of sexual abuse may both delay reporting and be able to recall specifics of the abuse.”
District Attorney Lori P. Rieman again prosecuted the case this week. She called the victim to testify, as well as Dr. Stefan Perkowski of Buffalo, an expert witness in what is called child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome.
Adelstein last week asked Boller for time to locate an expert witness for her defense, but he denied her request.
“This time I was able to cross-examine an expert witness,” Adelstein said after the trial. “And, obviously, it was successful.”
An email to Rieman seeking a response to the verdict was not answered.

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