A jury on Monday acquitted Jordan Frysinger of all four felony sex charges against him.
The jury of seven men and five women deliberated just over three hours before rendering the verdict, bringing tears and hugs from Frysinger's friends and family in the courtroom.
Frysinger had been charged with three counts of attempted first-degree rape and one count of first-degree criminal sexual act.
Prosecutor Michael Tantillo, the Ontario County district attorney, had alleged that Frysinger and Cedric Hairston sexually assaulted a teenage girl who was incapacitated by alcohol during a post-prom party at a Keuka Lake lakehouse owned by Frysinger's parents, Charles and Sharon. According to prosecutors, the incident took place in a loft area in a smaller cottage next to the main lakehouse.
Frysinger, 21, is a former Corning Hawks athlete. At the time of his arrest on the charges, he was a football player at Div. I Illinois.
Defense counsel William Easton, after the verdict, said the jury made the right decision.
"I think they were thorough," he said. "I think they did their jobs and took their responsibilities seriously."
During his summation, Easton challenged many aspects of the prosecution's case.
In particular, he questioned whether it was even physically possible for the alleged victim to have consumed enough alcohol to become unconscious, or "physically helpless," as the law states, in the time frame described by prosecutors.
"Two hours after she arrived (at the Frysingers' lake house), the prosecution would have you believe she was unconscious," Easton said.
He suggested it was convenient that the girl had described drinking 13 drinks – precisely the amount it would take the reach the medical standard of unconsciousness by alcohol intoxication – when she didn't remember anything else from the evening.
He also dismissed suggestions by prosecutors that Frysinger's parents had asked or coerced witnesses to change their testimony, noting inconsistencies even between defense witnesses.
"If there was a meeting to get everyone's story in line, it didn't work," he said.
Easton also drew attention to the testimony of Hairston, who previously pleaded guilty to felony reckless endangerment related to the incident and received probation.
Hairston was called as a prosecution witness, and testified that he and Frysinger had attempted to have sex with the alleged victim – but said the girl was conscious and participating.
Tantillo, for his part, believes the verdict was largely the result of the stringency of the law Frysinger was charged under.
The law requires that the victim in such a case be "unconscious, or otherwise unable to communicate their unwillingness to act," according to the instructions to the jury from Steuben County Judge Peter Bradstreet.
Tantillo said that's a very difficult standard to meet.
Page 2 of 2 - "The jury instruction is so stringent," he said. "It basically requires that the victim be unconscious."
He said despite the difficulty, the charges were appropriate.
"The jury knew something bad happened," at the May 19, 2012 party, Tantillo said.
In his summation, Tantillo argued that the prosecution case was more believable because their witnesses were consistent with each other, unlike the defense, which he said suffered from "embellishment."
He also said that Hairston, whose testimony clearly wasn't what Tantillo had expected to hear, had still given the jury "more than enough," though the judge noted that as an accomplice, the jury couldn't convict on his testimony alone.
Hairston's testimony at trial that the alleged victim was conscious during the incident conflicted with his guilty plea to reckless endangerment.
In that case, Hairston said he had committed reckless endangerment by leaving the alleged victim helpless and unconscious.
Tantillo said he didn't know whether Hairston would face perjury charges related to his testimony.