Pennsylvania Man Acquitted of Sexual Assault Charges Against Teen in Bar Harbor
June 20, 2012
ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Pennsylvania man has been acquitted of four counts of molesting a teenage girl after three other related charges were thrown out during his trial last week in Hancock County Superior Court.
Mark Colantonio, 35, of Lansdale, Pa., went to trial June 13 on seven charges — three counts of unlawful sexual touching, three counts of assault and one count of sexual abuse of a minor. According to court documents, Colantonio was accused of molesting a teenage girl in Bar Harbor in June 2009.
Colantonio’s defense attorney, Jeff Toothaker of Ellsworth, said Wednesday that the alleged victim was related to Colantonio through marriage. The reported assaults supposedly occurred while Colantonio was on vacation in Maine with his family three years ago, Toothaker said.
The defense attorney said the presiding judge at the trial, Ann Murray, dismissed the three unlawful sexual touching charges after the victim testified that Colantonio had touched her waist but not other parts of her body. A sexual touching charge applies only when someone touches the groin, buttocks or inner thigh of another person, Toothaker said.
The jury found Colantonio innocent of the three assault charges and the one sexual abuse of a minor charge, the attorney said.
Assistant Hancock County District Attorney Mary Kellett, the prosecutor in the case, said Wednesday that the unlawful sexual charges hinged on what can be considered part of the buttocks. Colantonio was accused of putting his hand on the girl’s hips and waist, she said. Justice Murray determine that this behavior did not constitute a touching of the victim’s buttocks, Kellett said, and so dismissed the unlawful sexual touching charges.
“The state’s position was that it did,” the prosecutor said.
The three assault charges and the one for sexual abuse of a minor, which all stemmed from the same alleged incidents of unwanted touching, were not dismissed, Kellett added.
Toothaker said the allegations against his client arose at the same time that Colantonio’s ex-wife was seeking a divorce from Colantonio in Pennsylvania. He said his client had gone through law enforcement training and passed polygraph tests about his background before he found out in the fall of 2010 that he was being accused of molesting the girl.
Toothaker said testimony about his client’s divorce, child custody battle and law enforcement training was presented to the jury during the trial. The defense attorney said his client currently is working in law enforcement in Pennsylvania.
“He got bombarded by this in his divorce,” Toothaker said. “He’s happy [with the acquittal]. He’s home.”
Kellett disputed the idea that the allegations were fabricated in an attempt to influence the divorce proceedings and child custody battle. The alleged victim did not go directly to police with her accusations, Kellett said. She told classmates at school who in turn told teachers, who then contacted the girl’s parents — not the process one would expect if the allegations were made up, she said.
Kellett said the jury gave the allegations the careful consideration that they deserved.
“The jury was out for a long time,” she said. “They really worked hard on the case.”