New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | July 20, 2018

New Kent jury renders not guilty verdict against Toano man in alleged sex crime case

By Andre Jones | July 2, 2018 7:33 pm

After five hours of testimony and 65 minutes of deliberation, a New Kent jury found a Toano man innocent on an alleged sex crime.

The group of seven men and five women ruled that a single count of aggravated sexual battery of a minor less than 13 years old made against Allen Scott Rutherford Jr., 34, of the 100 block of Leisure Lane, was falsified after hearing evidence at Monday’s trial in New Kent Circuit Court.

Special prosecutor Clay Blanton opened the proceedings by calling the defendant’s mother to the stand. On the stand, the woman said that after taking her son back to his father’s home in Maryland after the Thanksgiving holiday in 2017, she returned to her residence, located in New Kent at the time. There, the defendant, who was an acquaintance of the victim’s mother, was passed out drunk on the floor. While the mother was gone, she had granted permission for Rutherford to use her computer to search for a new job.

The mother told jurors that she needed to take an exam on the computer but had forgotten the website. As she clicked through the history to recall the web page, she noticed located in the search bar the name of her child along with the word “naked.” When she clicked on the site, images of a naked lady appeared, and the victim’s mother confronted Rutherford.

“He told me that he’s a guy,” said the victim’s mother. “He likes to look up that type of thing.”

The argument continued the following morning as eventually the victim’s mother didn’t welcome Rutherford on the premises. From there, the mother testified her child began acting strangely. After consulting with a few friends, the mother approached the child and asked if something had allegedly happened between the defendant and the child, in which they responded “yes.” From there, the mother contacted authorities to report the incident.

The alleged victim took the stand and described what allegedly took place that night.

“He walked over to my bed and began to touch my back,” the victim stated.

From there, testimony by the alleged victim said that Rutherford touched the child’s bottom before proceeding to the private area. The child also said they recognized the defendant due to his hairstyle and glasses being illuminated because of the light shining through a window.

Defense attorney Martin Mooradian challenged the mother’s testimony first, asking about the content of the links in the computer’s history.

“No pictures of kids came up right?” Mooradian inquired of the victim’s mother.

“No sir,” she responded.

During cross-examination of the victim, the defense lawyer laid a foundation to establish a timeline of events and what took place the night of the computer incident and anything prior. First, Mooradian presented pictures of activities that Rutherford and the alleged victim partook in that included attending cultural outings and water-tubing.

Mooradian proceeded to ask about the time of the touching incident. The alleged victim said they could not recall the exact month, but thought it was April (2017). Next, the defense lawyer questioned the alleged victim of the computer incident. The child said they did not sleep during the night of the computer incident as the child continuously heard their mother cry. The alleged victim said they got up multiple times during the night to console their mother, a statement that was contradictory to earlier testimony by the victim’s mother.

After Rutherford had been banned from the premises, the victim’s mother and her friends met with the victim on the front porch of their home. That is when they asked the question of the alleged inappropriate touching by the defendant.

Lt. Farrar W. Howard III of New Kent Sheriff’s Office worked the case and interviewed the defendant about the alleged incident. Howard testified that Rutherford admitted to having a drinking problem and that the defendant admitted to his downfalls because of it.

“He told me that doesn’t have any memory of doing thing when he binge drinks,” the officer during direct examination. “He told me that when he does drink, he blacks out and he does not know what he does.”

Mooradian asked during cross-examination for the deputy to look at the dates issued on the criminal complaint. Howard pulled out his form and said that the alleged offenses took place between August and December of 2017, something that differed from the victim’s testimony earlier in the trial.

The defense attorney continued, asking if there was anyway for investigating detectives to know who exactly typed information into the web pages’ search engine.

A redirect by Blanton revealed that an interview with the victim discovered that the information was an alleged second touching by the defendant in early August.

After the prosecution rested, Mooradian’s two defense witnesses both testified that they didn’t see any change of interaction between the victim and Rutherford.

“I’ve seen them do a lot,” said Jeni Webb, the defendant’s sister. “They would dance at gatherings and come to my house and use the shower.”

“I took this picture in July 2017,” said Allen Rutherford Sr., pointing out a picture that showed the victim and the defendant at a cultural event. “Their interaction has been very friendly.”

During closing arguments, Blanton said the defendant knew what he was doing when he used the computer.

“When he typed those words in the search engine, he had [the victim’s name] in mind,” the prosecutor said. “He could have typed in any other name, but it was the child’s name.

“You saw the victims’ appearance and those words in your mind and when you go back to deliberate, you should come back with a guilty verdict,” Blanton stated.

However, Mooradian countered by pointing to inconsistent testimony and the timeline of dates from the alleged offense.

“We have an allegation here and not a whole lot more,” the defense attorney said. “When you have a day such as a birthday or Christmas, you tend to remember those days because they are life-changing events.

“Here, we have a life-changing event and the victim can’t remember the date or narrow it to a month,” Mooradian continued. “If it was something that mattered, you’d remember when it all happened. There is nothing here to support the victim’s statements and testimony.”

Blanton’s final retort focused on the dates as well but said the victim’s age played a factor into that.

“You are always going to remember the good times such as birthdays and Christmas because you get gifts that you associate with happiness,” the prosecutor said as he wrapped up his arguments. “Here, you have something bad that happens and the victim is trying to suppress it as much as they can. Even with the testimony, the victim tried to push it away and move on from it.”

After departing and returning just over an hour later, the jury came back with a not guilty verdict for the defendant, apparently stemming from conflicting testimonies of the prosecution’s witnesses.