Aaron Lewis found not guilty
Former alternative sentencing officer Aaron Lewis was found not guilty on three charges related to accusations that he molested six women in the course of his duties.
After three days of deliberation, the 12-person jury could not reach a consensus on the other 19 counts, which included misconduct of a public officer, open or gross lewdness, oppression under color of office and coercion with physical force or threat of immediate threat of physical force.
The state office of the attorney general has the option to ask for a retrial but didn’t indicate its decision either way Friday.
When the jury’s verdict was read, the packed courtroom broke into cries of relief. Family and friends hugged each other and several people started to cry.
“We knew all along that he was innocent,” said Lewis’ mother, Marcia Lewis.
Lewis’ ordeal began in September 2010, when Melissa Mulder, then 20, filed a lawsuit against him. During the preliminary hearing, the bulk of which was held in June 2011, it was revealed that Mulder was a former stripper and a heroin addict. Mulder kicked off the investigation when she filed a civil suit against Lewis – proof that her motivations were financial, defense attorney Larry Digesti argued.
Several other accusers also were found to have substance abuse issues, and all had consumed drugs, alcohol or both on the days of the reported incidents.
“I think the jury reached the right decision, and I honestly believe, and will believe it forever, that the accusations were false,” Digesti said after the verdict was read. “(The women) were motivated for financial reasons and … a lot of these young women simply did not like Aaron Lewis and did not like the Department of Alternative Sentencing. It could have been Aaron and it could have been anyone else in that same situation.”
Lewis would not comment on the ruling, citing counsel from Digesti. The reported incidents occurred between November 2009 and September 2010 while Lewis worked for the Carson City Department of Alternative Sentencing between November 2009 and September 2010. The department monitors people on probation or out on bail for the court.
He was on paid administrative leave between September 2010, when the charges were first levied, and April 2011, when he resigned. Digesti said he didn’t think his client would return to law enforcement in Carson City, saying the “damage was done.”
“(The accusations against him are) a police officer’s worst nightmare and it happens to police officers all across the country,” Digesti said. “It’s been a living hell for him and his whole family.”
Digesti said he hoped the office of the attorney general wouldn’t pursue another trial against Lewis. He cited the juror deadlock of a 10-2 split, with the majority arguing for full acquittal.
“That’s a pretty good indicator, at least in my mind,” Digesti said.