Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Not guilty verdict in Alton sex abuse case

55 counts of sexual assault. And he was found not guilty of all charges. Mr. Lopez is an incredibly lucky man. However, the stigma will likely force him to relocate because those in his neighborhood will always view him with suspicion.

Antonio Lopez not guilty of 55 counts of sexual assault.

HIDALGO COUNTY -- Antonio Lopez has been cleared of raping two young girls over an eight year period.

The conclusion to the case came on Thursday evening when a jury dropped the charges clearing Lopez of any wrongdoing.

Antonio Tallasa Lopez was jailed and arrested for the unthinkable -- raping and sodomizing two girls under the girls of 14.

In all, he faced 55 counts of sexual assault, the most sexual charges against anyone in Hidalgo County.

"She blurted out he's been doing this to us," a relative said. "He's been raping us. He's been raping us" The relative spoke only to Action 4 News to share their story claiming a neighbor knew about the abuse for years but never alerted authorities.

"It happened to be a neighbor," she said. "We had been neighbors for eight years when all that was happening."

The verdict arrived the same week as when the trial began. Prosecutors claimed Lopez violated the young girls' trust but the defense painted a picture of retaliation over a failed marriage.

Four days of hearing testimony from both sides, including the victims, ended with the jury siding with Lopez.

They found him not guilty on all 55 counts.

Emotion filled the courtroom as the verdict was read.

Lopez's family immediately called the Action 4 Listens Line to share the news.

Lopez, no longer billed as sexual predator, teared up and prepared to walk out of the Hidalgo County jail a free man.

At this hour, Antonio Lopez is out of jail and with family.

As for the family of the girls, they were obviously devastated as the verdict was read.

But the mother of the girls tells Action 4 News everyday is a constant struggle as they try and rebuild their lives.

Link: http://www.valleycentral.com/news/news_story.aspx?id=322910