WARSAW — After two hours of deliberation, the jury declared Jeff Haney, Warsaw, not guilty of child molesting, a class C felony.
Upon hearing the verdict, Haney let out a tearful sigh of relief. After the jury was released, he spent several minutes hugging his attorney, friends and family. When asked for a statement on the verdict, Haney replied, “I would like to say that I put all my trust in Christ.”
The jury began deliberation at 3:45 p.m., this afternoon, April 12. After returning from this morning’s recess, the state rested with no further evidence. The defense elected to present no evidence and the trial was quickly moved to closing statements.
Kosciusko County Deputy Prosecutor Katy Hampton presented five steps of the abuse process that Haney took. She described step one as building trust with the family, step two as befriending a vulnerable child, step three as disguising the relationship as a friendship, step four as manipulating and lying to everyone and step five as turning the relationship physical.
“When people like Jeff Haney commit crimes like this, child molesting, they choose vulnerable children,” said Hampton. “The truth is that Jeff Haney molested [the victim] when she was 13 years old and I ask you to find him guilty.”
Attorney Joseph Sobek then presented a closing statement on behalf of the defense. Sobek provided multiple reasons that Haney’s guilt couldn’t be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, including the long span of time before the accusations surfaced, the new details the victim testified to – like the back touching – and the fact that there was no DNA evidence or fingerprints.
Sobek also touched on the fact that it was suspiciously convenient that the video footage of Haney’s testimony stopped abruptly right as he was about to explain something. It was argued that even though the two talked and hung out, it didn’t make Haney guilty of child molestation.
“The state would have you believe that Jeff is so stupid do this in the middle of the day … near her own neighborhood,” said Sobek.
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