CANTON A Rooseveltown man accused of having repeated sexual contact with a seven-year-old was found not guilty Wednesday afternoon in St. Lawrence County Court.
The seven-woman, five-man jury cleared Aristide Rojas, 40, of a sole count of felony first-degree course of sexual conduct, for which he faced up to 25 years in state prison if convicted.
Mr. Rojas, speaking from the court parking lot shortly after the verdict, gave credit to the jury, which deliberated for two and a half hours.
They looked at all the information that was presented, all the evidence that was presented, and it showed where I was being wrongly accused, he said.
Mr. Rojas was originally arrested in March 2010 and accused of having sexual contact with the girl from fall 2004 to summer 2006 in Ogdensburg and the town of Massena.
Now 16-years-old, she testified Tuesday that Mr. Rojas, her mothers ex-fiance, sexually abused her for several years while her mother worked nights.
The case was originally tried in April 2011, but Judge Jerome J. Richards declared a mistrial after information not previously disclosed to prosecutors surfaced during testimony.
According to Mr. Rojas attorney, Mary E. Rain, Ogdensburg, the now-teenager and her mother adjusted their story when testifying to the first grand jury and then to the second, leading to the acquittal.
Its my personal belief that they just lied, they got caught in it and then they changed, Ms. Rain said outside the courtroom. I believe when [the jurors] looked at the evidence they saw that the alleged victim in this case was just not credible, as well as her mother.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Amanda N. Nissen, who prosecuted the case, declined to comment about the outcome.
According to Ms. Rain, prosecutors sought to argue that the abuse started in 2003, a year earlier than had been alleged at the previous trial.
They said the victim could get the dates wrong because she was seven. Well, mom wasnt seven, Ms. Rain said. Most women remember when they started dating somebody who theyve been dating for six years.
Until Wednesday, Mr. Rojas also faced one count of misdemeanor child endangerment, but the charge was tossed after a review of the grand jury minutes revealed he was indicted on the charge beyond the statute of limitations.
My lawyer did a phenomenal job, Mr. Rojas said. She did a great job making sure that the facts were looked at.