A jury found the former owner of Bellefonte Family Dentistry not guilty of all charges on Thursday.
Six men and six women deliberated for about nine and a half hours before acquitting 48-year-old Wade Newman of felony rape, attempted rape, sexual assault, kidnapping and two counts of misdemeanor indecent assault.
He was accused of kidnapping and raping his patient of 17 years after driving her to a root canal appointment in October 2016.
“We’re appreciative and thankful for the jury’s time and effort,” District Attorney Bernie Cantorna said. “We respect their verdict.”
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Steven Trialonas — one of Newman’s two attorneys — said he was pleased with the verdict.
“For any readers who didn’t sit through the trial and hear the evidence as it came out, it’s hard to appreciate or understand a jury’s verdict,” Trialonas said. “While some might disagree, I believe that’s simply because they don’t have all the facts.”
Stephanie Cooper — a second attorney for Newman — said Newman was grateful for the verdict and relied on his faith and his family throughout.
“We’re very proud of how the system worked in this case,” Cooper said. “Clearly, this was the correct result. You are supposed to be tried by a jury of your peers and the truth is supposed to be determined from that trial — and that’s clearly what happened in this case.”
The verdict was delivered after four days of testimony and arguments. Thursday began with a closing argument from Trialonas.
He thanked jurors for their time and apologized for anything he did that may have offended them.
He then asked the jury to consider the woman’s past, which includes two guilty pleas to retail theft charges. When the woman testified, she apologized for the thefts, but said she was on a lot of medication at the time.
“When her back is against the wall, what does that tell you about (the woman)?” Trialonas asked.
He then spoke about the first element of the rape charge, which is whether he penetrated the woman.
“She testified he penetrated her. Conveniently, it’s one of the only things she remembers,” Trialonas said.
He continued to ask the jury questions, like why former Spring Township detective Dale Moore did not testify and why prosecutors charged criminal attempt at rape.
“What does that tell you about (the woman) and her statements?” Trialonas asked. “This is not a consent case. This is an incapacitation case.”
Deputy District Attorney Sean McGraw disagreed. He began his opening statement by saying the case is about evidence. He then played video of Newman’s conversation with the woman.
“By his own words, he admits she was in no condition to be engaged sexually by him,” McGraw said.
He also said Newman completely disregarded safety procedures, deliberately lied and succeeded at raping his patient.
“I’m just about out of time. I’m out of energy. But to close this thing out, this case is not about two people from the other side of the tracks targeting a wealthy, influential member of the community to set up some type of lawsuit to get his money,” McGraw said. “It’s about a wealthy, influential man having sex with someone who is vulnerable. On behalf of the Commonwealth, I ask you to return the verdict of guilty on all charges.”
The jury did just the opposite.