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Crime & Courts

DeKalb man acquitted of raping teen

SYCAMORE – A 43-year-old DeKalb man was acquitted Tuesday of allegations he raped a teenage girl after driving her to pick up clothes for a sleepover.

Jurors deliberated for about 30 minutes before finding Melvin Jones, of the 300 block of Haish Boulevard, not guilty of three counts of criminal sexual assault. If convicted, he could have faced between four and 45 years in prison.

Jones was released from DeKalb County Jail on Tuesday. He had been jailed since his arrest Nov. 2, 2012 because he was unable to post $50,000 bail.

During the two-day trial, a 14-year-old DeKalb girl testified that Jones raped her in his car in September 2012, but she waited until mid-October 2012 to tell a family member because she was embarrassed and scared.

He had driven her to pick up clothing for an impromptu sleepover at his house, then drove around DeKalb before parking in a dark alley and raping her, she testified.

After her family reported the incident to police, police recorded a phone call between her and Jones in which she told him she thought she was pregnant. After a long pause, he asked her if she was sure.

Jones did not testify at the trial, but denied raping her when police interviewed him.

During closing arguments Tuesday, defense attorney Brian Erwin questioned why police didn’t search Jones’ car for physical evidence or track down Jones’ friends, who the girl said talked with him while she was in his car.

Erwin encouraged jurors to consider what they would say in that situation if a teenage girl called them to say she was pregnant.

“You can ask: ‘How would I respond?’ ” Erwin said.

Meanwhile, prosecutor Duke Harris emphasized that the girl had endured sleepless nights, a broken friendship, multiple police interviews and the stress of testifying after the alleged incident.

“She has absolutely no motivation to make this up at all,” Harris said.

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