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Man acquitted of rape charge

July 26, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

After 2 1/2 hours of deliberations Friday, a Washington County Circuit Court jury found Kenneth Lee Peterson not guilty of raping his ex-girlfriend last February.

Peterson, 32, of 720 W. Franklin St., also was acquitted of additional charges stemming from that incident including assault, burglary and trespassing. He has been in the Washington County Detention Center for nearly five months awaiting trial.

Witness after witness testified Thursday and Friday about the turbulent eight-month relationship between Peterson and the woman he was accused of raping.

Peterson said he bought the woman two beers and four Southern Comforts on Feb. 21 despite knowing that she tended to get violent and often hit him when she was drinking.

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The woman testified she left the bar, got into a cab and Peterson jumped in, riding with her to the apartment they once shared. He forced his way into the apartment and began kissing her, she said from the stand.

Then he forced her to have intercourse with him on the living room floor, she said.

Peterson and the woman both agreed in their testimony that she then went upstairs to bed and he followed her, staying with her through the night into the morning of Feb. 22.

She testified he told her he loved her and again forced her to have sex, this time downstairs on the couch. After that second encounter, she said she fought with him, hitting him with a beer stein.

Peterson testified the second encounter also was consensual and that she hit him with the beer stein later for no reason.

She later pretended to fall asleep in a chair and when Peterson fell asleep, she was able to get away, she said.

Peterson admitted in court Friday that he lied in all his taped and written interviews with police. He said he lied because of the "no trespass" letter the woman had gotten after their break-up in January.

He told police the woman was drunk at the bar, falling off her stool and hitting her face on the bar. He also told police he put her in a cab and dropped her off at her apartment and then went home.

But the cab driver testified he didn't drive Peterson home. Instead he said Peterson got out a block from the woman's home and ran back.

"This was about a relationship that was over but Mr. Peterson said it's not over until he says it's over," said Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Gina Cirincion in her opening statement Thursday.

Defense attorney John P. Corderman characterized the episode as based on the old adage that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

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