BEDFORD - A Bedford County jury on Tuesday acquitted Richard Lemoune Maine, 79, of all 29 charges in a child rape and incest case involving Maine's young family members.
After hearing less than five hours of testimony and deliberating for just more than an hour, jurors found Maine not guilty on every count of child rape, statutory sexual assault, incest and other charges. Two female relatives - now teenagers but possibly as young as 5 at the time they claimed to have been assaulted - had accused Maine of years of abuse, including forced sexual intercourse with their younger brother.
"Their stories didn't add up,
didn't line up. They were all over the place," defense attorney Mark Zearfaus said of Maine's accusers as the courthouse emptied. The courtroom was somber; Maine remained quiet as one of his accusers sobbed in family members' arms.
On the witness stand Tuesday, Maine, who needed a hearing aid and seemed confused by some questions, strenuously denied abusing his relatives. He said an apparent admission of guilt, made during prior questioning with state police troopers, was offered only to stop their "badgering" questions.
After the trial, Ken Farley - set to marry a relative of the accusers - noted ominously that several family members would be "gunning for [Maine]" as soon as Tuesday night. Farley referenced an alleged jailhouse assault, carried out in December allegedly by another family member, against Maine.
While much of Maine's family, including his former wife, testified against him, Zearfaus pointed out inconsistencies that set each one's stories apart.
One alleged victim had said at various times that the abuse began when she was 12, 8 and 5 years old, while the other said it ended when she was both 10 and 17, he noted.
A 16-year-old male relative - who told the court he had repeatedly raped the girls at Maine's insistence - told stories that differed broadly from the girls', though District Attorney Bill Higgins questioned what motive the boy would have to invent such a claim.
The case was complicated by a web of alleged incestuous relationships that connected several members of the family: According to the family's testimony, the allegations against Maine first came to light when one of the girls was carrying on a relationship with her nephew, who was nearly twice her age.
The girls' mother, who acknowledged carrying on a sexual relationship of her own with the nephew, said an email exchange came to her attention in 2012 that alluded to Maine's alleged abuse.
Sometime after that, child authorities took the girls from Maine's care and placed them temporarily in foster homes.
On Tuesday, Maine suggested the allegations against him were motivated by a desire to distract attention from the girl's relationship with her nephew, which some in the family had suggested was criminal in nature.
The accusers remained adamant that, despite any inconsistencies, Maine had abused them for years, sexually assaulting them in and around their Lincoln Township house while their mother was out for errands.
"I told him I didn't want to do any of it. I was tired of doing it," one accuser, now 19, said. "He didn't care."
Shortly before the trial opened, the prosecution dropped three incest charges against Maine after learning one of the accusers was a relative by upbringing, not blood.
After the trial Tuesday, Farley said the accusers would try to return to normalcy in the former family home, where they now live with their mother.
Zearfaus said he would try to secure a temporary home for Maine, who was set to be released after more than a year in the Bedford County Correctional Facility.
He said he encouraged Maine not to contact his relatives, despite Maine's comments on the witness stand: "I still love them. I even forgive them for the lies they said today."
One of the accusers, asked whether she still loved Maine, offered a vastly different answer.
"I still care about him. But I think the hate's taking over," she said.
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.