Tuesday, April 8, 2003

Jury deadlocks in ex-official's case

By Samuel Maull
The Associated Press

NEW YORK - A New York City judge declared a mistrial Monday in the sex abuse case against Kentucky's former juvenile justice commissioner after jurors declared for the third time they were unable to reach a verdict.

The Manhattan Criminal Court jury of five men and one woman, considering misdemeanor charges of sex abuse and forcible touching filed against Ralph E. Kelly, sent out the final message around 3:15 p.m.

"We regret we are hopelessly hung," the note to Judge A. Kirke Bartley Jr. said. The jurors - New York uses six jurors in misdemeanor cases - had sent out two similar notes within five hours of beginning deliberations around 1 p.m. Friday.

The judge set June 2 as the tentative date for Kelly's retrial. Kelly, 65, refused to comment after the mistrial declaration. The alleged victim was not in court.

Kelly had been accused of sexually groping one of two 21-year-old men who accompanied him to New York City last fall. He was in the city to attend a football game and see friends, and the young men - college buddies - came along as tourists.

One juror, Ben Allen, a 59-year-old computer project manager, said he and four others voted to acquit Kelly within 90 minutes of beginning deliberations Friday. He said there was no physical or eyewitness evidence against him and it was simply Kelly's word against the alleged victim's.

However, Allen said, one of the five men on the jury stated from the beginning that he thought Kelly was a liar, that the victim had told the truth, that he was voting to convict and that he would not change his mind. "We had a very intelligent group," Allen said. "We had one obstinate person, and that was it."

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