Jury acquits Worthington man

NEW ULM – A Brown County District Court jury of seven women and five men deliberated 90 minutes Friday before finding a 19-year-old Worthington not guilty of five counts of felony criminal sexual conduct and misdemeanor 5th degree assault.

The three-day jury trial focused on Taylor B. Anderson’s involvement with a juvenile girl in Springfield last September.

Anderson was clearly relieved when the case concluded late Friday afternoon. “It destroyed my life,” Anderson said. “I had to live in seclusion for six months. I had death threats, lost my job, my car was keyed and my tires were slashed.”

“We’re really happy, relieved this is over. The old Taylor is back again,” said his mother, Monica Anderson.

Prosecuting attorney Paul Gunderson of New Ulm said the case was not eligible for appeal. “These types of cases are not typically easy to do. The jury had a job to do, and they did it,” he said.

Jury members chose not to comment after the verdict was read.

In his summation, Public Defender John Yost said Anderson was falsely portrayed as a rapist and that a rapist and his victim wouldn’t send text messages to each other with happy faces, asking how they were doing, after they met.

“There were no signs of force, no vaginal exam was requested,” Yost said. “If you want to catch a rapist, you have to get a sample of his semen. Taylor Anderson doesn’t have to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. The State does.”

In his rebuttal, Gunderson said the girl text messaged Anderson, “You hurt me, you embarrassed me, you had sex with me. You choked me.” Gunderson said she had to tell her story over and over, to the county investigator, police, her friends and her mother.”

According to the complaint, Anderson and the girl chatted to each other on Facebook before deciding to meet on Sept. 29, 2013, at Brown’s Park in Springfield. After several hours of hugging and kissing, they visited a friend’s Springfield residence later that day and wound up in a spare bedroom. Anderson allegedly locked the door, turned off the lights and had sex with the girl using a condom. He later allegedly put his hand on her neck and tried to choke her, despite her telling him to stop multiple times.

Following a smoke break outside, the couple allegedly returned to the residence and Anderson tried to have sex with the girl again, she resisted, he got angry, pushed her against the wall and grabbed her neck again, bruising it, according to the complaint.

At one point, the girl bit Anderson in the shoulder and told him she wanted to leave, according to the complaint. Anderson drove the girl home at about 3 a.m. and returned to the Springfield residence.

The next day, Anderson drove to the girl’s residence with some of his friends and continued what he called a romantic relationship intertwined with texts including happy faces and heart symbols, according to his court testimony. The couple hugged and kissed each other again before things turned sour after Anderson and some of his friends made inappropriate comments about the prior evening, prompting the girl to call the relationship off.

The girl later talked to a friend and her mother who called the Brown County Sheriff’s Office and said her daughter was sexually assaulted by Anderson two days before.

A Brown County Sheriff’s Deputy interviewed the girl before turning the investigation over to Springfield Police after learning it happened in Springfield. The girl was later examined for sexual assault at the Springfield hospital. Springfield police went to the residence where the girl said the assault took place, interviewed Anderson, downloaded his cell phone messages, arrested him and took him to jail.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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