Alexandru Hossu is escorted by Putnam County Sherriffs into Southeast, N.Y. town court on June 18. He pleaded not guilty July 2 to charges in the rape of a 13-year-old girl in October 2010. / Matthew Brown, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News
PUTNAM COUNTY, N.Y. - Alexandru Hossu has been acquitted on all counts in a child-rape case in Putnam County.
Hossu was accused of twice raping the then-13-year-old girl one night in 2010 at her Brewster home. He was crying and smiling after the verdict was announced Wednesday morning.
Hossu, 36, is Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy's former live-in personal trainer and was the boyfriend of the girl's mother's at the time.
He had faced two counts of first-degree rape, two counts of second-degree rape and endangering the welfare of a child.
"To anyone who watched this trial the verdict was a foregone conclusion," defense lawyer Daniel Mentzer said. He said after the judge announced the jury had reached a verdict, he whispered in Hossu's ear, "The right thing is going to happen here."
"To have to go through what that man went through is inhuman," Mentzer said. "Where does this man go to get his reputation back?"
The girl's aunt, who testified at the trial, said the teenager was called Thursday to her school guidance office, where she was told of the verdict by a school social worker who also had taken the stand at the trial. The aunt said the teen was likely "very upset" inside but was still processing the verdict.
"She's a mature, intelligent young lady," she said. "She understands the power of reasonable doubt, but it doesn't change her story."
The case had been handled by the Westchester District Attorney's office after Levy, son of television personality Judge Judy Sheindlin, recused his office from the case.
"We were confident in our prosecution of this case as evidenced by the length of the jury's deliberations and the fact that they were initially deadlocked," said Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore. "We respect their verdict and appreciate their service."
With no forensic evidence, the prosecution's case had depended heavily on the now-high school junior's testimony.
Juror Debbie Silmon, 57, of Carmel, said the jury was 10-2 in favor of acquittal Monday, then 11-1 since then. She said one male juror held out, saying he found the teenager credible and questioning why she would make up a story.
Silmon said jurors used a calendar and phone records to convince the holdout juror and rule out dates the attack could have happened.
"The man is innocent, period," she said. "I have no doubt whatsoever. He was 100% innocent. I thought she was a little liar. The sniffling, I think, was an act."
The girl had testified that Hossu "snapped" and grabbed her math homework from her lap, tossing it on the floor when she told him she didn't want his help. He choked her and raped her for three hours, she said, leaving her in excruciating pain, with blood all over her bed.
The defense, however, had contended the girl's account was implausible.
Mentzer, Levy's brother-in-law, said in closing arguments Monday that the girl admittedly hated Hossu, might blame him for her mother's subsequent fatal drug overdose and might have fabricated the rape to get out of having sex with her boyfriend.
In the end, he told the jury, Hossu should get "the benefit of the doubt."
Gwen Wilkinson, 32, of Brewster, a footwear buyer and juror, said male jurors were asked during deliberations if they ever had sex for roughly three hours straight.
"They said it's near impossible," she said.
As for the 17-minute controlled phone call the girl made to Hossu confronting him with the rape allegations, Wilkinson said, "I thought he showed he actually cared for the kids" by asking how the girl and brother had been doing since her mother's death "and seemed absolutely shocked" at her accusations.
Despite his acquittal, Hossu, a Romanian immigrant who was in the country illegally, remains in custody because he has a federal immigration detainer on him.
The girl's aunt asked for privacy, saying it had been "a really painful" time for the family.
"All I can say is the verdict does not change in any way how proud we are of our girl," she said. Now that the trial is behind her, it will help the girl move forward, her aunt said, but, "It's never going to change what happened."
The aunt thanked Westchester prosecutors.
"They've been exceptional," she said. "So thoughtful, so diligent, so dedicated. They allowed her to feel she was being respected and advocated for."
She also thanked Putnam County sheriff's investigators and jurors, who she said "seemed as though they were thoughtful, they were trying to do their best."
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