FORT EDWARD — Rape charges that accused a Kingsbury man of forcibly sexually assaulting a woman last spring were dropped Tuesday during the man’s trial.
Julien L. Bama, 27, of Deer Run Drive, was arrested in April by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, charged with first-degree rape for allegedly forcing a woman he knew to have sex in Kingsbury. He was later indicted on first-degree rape and third-degree rape counts.
A jury was picked in the case Monday before Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan, and testimony was to begin Tuesday.
Instead, Washington County prosecutors Tuesday morning asked McKeighan to drop the charge in light of evidentiary issues that arose in the case.
Lee Kindlon, Bama’s lawyer, said Bama maintained that the sexual encounter was consensual.
He said the woman’s “story started to waver” and the district attorney’s office decided to end the prosecution. He praised the district attorney’s office, saying “a lot of district attorneys” would probably have pushed through with the case despite reservations.
Kindlon said Bama and the woman met on a dating website, and the woman claimed the sex started as consensual, but that Bama continued when it became “nonconsensual.”
The defense, though, planned to introduce text messages between the two, as well as a video that one of the parties filmed of the sex.
“Defense exhibit A was a recording of the interaction,” Kindlon said.
Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said his staff became aware of issues with evidence in the case Monday that would affect its viability and was ethically obligated to seek a dismissal if it was not believed a conviction could be obtained.
“It didn’t take away our belief in the victim,” he said. “But we have an ethical duty to not proceed if we conclude we can’t get a conviction.”
First-degree rape is punishable by up to 25 years in state prison. Bama spent time in Washington County Jail after his arrest, but has been fortunate that his employer allowed him to work after his release and has stood by him, Kindlon said.