Accused molester acquitted after 26-minute deliberation

Friday, December 17, 2004

A seven-man, five-woman jury took 26 minutes to acquit Bradley C. "Chris" Bollinger, 32, of the statutory rape and sodomy of a girl who was 10 at the time she reported the abuse. The victim is now 12.

Bollinger, of Jackson, was charged with first-degree statutory rape and sodomy in February 2003 when the girl accused him of abuse that she said occurred in 1999. The girl is the daughter of a woman who had been in a relationship with Bollinger at the time.

Bollinger's attorney, Albert Lowes, said the charge against Bollinger was fabricated and based on a disagreement he had with the child's mother over custody and visitation rights of a baby girl, now 2 1/2 years old, he and the woman have together. The child who accused Bollinger is not his.

Lowes said he contended in court that the child had been coached on what to say, and he made a point of the fact that three years had lapsed between the time she was allegedly abused and the time she told someone about it.

Assistant prosecutor Julie Hunter, who prosecuted the case, said she was very disappointed in the verdict, but "the jury heard the evidence and it was their decision to make."

Hunter said she was especially disappointed because of the effort Jackson Police Chief James Humphreys made to be at the trial to testify. Humphreys, a Jackson detective at the time, arrested Bollinger and investigated the case. His doctor, Mark Kasten, had strongly recommended that he not testify because he recently had been hospitalized with pneumonia.

The trial had originally been scheduled for September, but was postponed until this week. Hunter said Humphreys and the prosecution did not want to reschedule again.

"He came to court and testified and that was simply to avoid the child being traumatized any further," Hunter said.

lredeffer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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