Rockport man acquitted of sex crime
Rockland — A 55-year-old man charged with sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl was acquitted by a jury Dec. 10.
Arthur R. Dodge Jr., of Rockport, was found not guilty of unlawful sexual contact by a panel of 12 jurors. The jury deliberated for 20 minutes before reaching a verdict.
The victim is now 14 years old and testified during the first day of the trial.
An original charge of gross sexual assault was dismissed as the testimony of the victim did not describe genital to genital contact, as defined as gross sexual assault. She testified both she and Dodge had clothes on during the alleged abuse.
Dodge was arrested March 21 after investigators interviewed the victim, executed a search warrant at Dodge's home, and tested DNA evidence found on the victim's clothing, according to court documents.
The DNA evidence was not provided as evidence during the trial.
The incidents occurred in November 2011, according to court documents.
Camden defense attorney Christopher MacLean told jurors during opening statements the victim has altered her testimony about the events regarding the dates and what occurred during the alleged crime. MacLean said her story was nonsensical, due to the changes in her statements, because it was not a truthful claim.
"He did not abuse her in any way, shape, or form," MacLean said of his client.
MacLean said the victim began seeing a counselor before the allegations surfaced. He said if the claims of abuse were true, the victim would have presumably told her mother and the counselor about the incidents, which she did not, he said.
The victim, he said, was told to make the claims against Dodge by another person who did not like the defendant.
During her testimony, the victim told the court she was touched inappropriately by Dodge on two occasions, once in a shed on Dodge's property, and once in an upstairs bedroom. She said she told an adult about the incident when she was first touched, but that the adult didn't believe her. She then told another adult, who brought the claims to the police.
She said it was hard for her to talk about what had happened and added she was nervous.
Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Baroody told the jury during closing arguments it was difficult for the victim to talk about the abuse, and although she had a tough time on the stand answering questions, she managed to tell the court she was touched inappropriately by Dodge. Baroody said the details she provided about the incident could not have been fabricated by a child.
As this was a difficult subject for the victim to talk about, the prosecutor asked jurors to consider her testimony in the context of her age and ADHD diagnosis.
Dodge has several convictions, including a 1989 felony conviction for unlawful sexual contact.
Before the trial began, two jurors were excused from serving on the jury panel as they had read news coverage of the case, specifically that Dodge had a previous 1989 felony conviction of unlawful sexual contact. MacLean said the defamatory nature of the story would not allow somebody to be an impartial juror of the case.
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
594-4401 ext. 118
Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.
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