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Jury still out on Canton man accused of sexually assaulting girls

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CANTON — The fate of a Canton man charged with sexual assault is in the hands of a seven woman, five man jury as deliberations continue today in St. Lawrence County Court.

Richard W. Thornton, 37, is charged with felony predatory sexual assault against a child, felony first- and second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and two counts of misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.

He is accused of sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl from summer 2008 to summer 2010, and of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl from summer 2002 to summer 2009.

In her closing arguments, Thornton’s attorney, Mary Rain, focused on the differences in the victims’ testimony.

“Look at the inconsistent stories and the plethora of reasonable doubt,” Ms. Rain said. “They’re changing their story by years.”

Chief Assistant District Attorney Amanda N. Nissen sympathized with the victims because of their young ages.

“Maybe she didn’t remember every detail; that doesn’t mea, she made it up,” Ms. Nissen said.

After deliberating for about three hours, jurors asked Judge Jerome J. Richards to re-read a description of the meaning of the charges. Judge Richards sent the jurors home for the night.

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