BLOOMINGTON — A McLean County jury deliberated about 30 minutes Thursday before acquitting a former Illinois State University student of criminal sexual assault.
Conor Maloney, 21, was charged with criminal sexual assault in a 2012 incident in a Watterson Towers dorm room. In charges filed in June 2013, he was accused of assaulting a woman after he accompanied her and her roommate back to the residence hall after a party.
Commenting after the short deliberations, defense lawyer Stephanie Wong said, "A very quick verdict tends to be a commentary on the strength of the case presented."
In testimony Wednesday, the alleged victim said she couldn't recall details of any sexual activity with Maloney but denied that she willingly participated in sex with him.
"I was sleeping. I was intoxicated. I did not give consent," the woman told the jury.
Maloney was equally adamant in his denials to police.
"I didn't rape anyone. I know I didn't," Maloney told ISU police Sgt. Derek Ronnfelt in a videotaped interview shown to the jury Thursday.
The tactics used by police to investigate the case were questioned by Wong.
Ronnfeldt admitted under cross-examination by Wong that he did not go to the crime scene or follow up to confirm information he obtained from Maloney's interview.
Ronnfeldt also admitted he lied to Maloney about DNA test results, telling the suspect that sex assault kits had been done on the alleged victim and her roommate and evidence could prove his involvement in a sexual assault.
Lab reports failed to link Maloney's DNA to vaginal swabs or clothing collected from the alleged victim. His DNA was found on bed sheets but he admitted he laid on the woman's bed.
Wong asked the sergeant about his motives for lying to Maloney.
"I believed there was deception on his part. I was trying to get to the truth," said the officer, denying that he was after a confession.
Wong complained Thursday that Ronnfelt acted improperly by sharing the defendant's police interview with the alleged victim. "That never should have occurred," said Wong.
The role alcohol may have played in the incident also came into focus Thursday in the suspect's videotaped police interview played for the jury.
Maloney initially told police he had engaged in consensual sex with one of the two women after he had consumed 15 beers. He was surprised to learn from Ronnfeldt that it was the woman's roommate who had accused him of sexual assault.
Maloney gave details to police of the encounter that he said occurred after the alleged victim's roommate turned him down. He said he remembers waking up naked next to the alleged victim, and her roommate screaming at him.
Maloney claims he went into the alleged victim's room after having sex with her roommate.