A Morris County Superior Court Family Division judge on Friday denied the request for an 18-year-old Morristown man, who is accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in September 2011, despite the defense attorney's insistence her client would not be a risk if allowed to leave the juvenile detention center.
The man—17 at the time prosecutors allege he and two others gave a girl something to drink that caused her to pass out, and then proceeded to have sex with her—bowed his head as Judge Michael Paul Wright denied the request. His parents and brother sat in the courtroom, his mother repeatedly put her head in her hands, as well.
The accused, who has not been named because of his age at the time of the incident, is due back in court at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27.
Morristown Det. Richard Lamperti testified that the victim, also 17 when the alleged attack happened, said she had been invited on Sept. 24, 2011, to a gathering on Hazel Street, according to DailyRecord.com.
The victim told police she was encouraged to drink a substance from a clear bottle and passed out, later waking up to find the defendant, with whom she is acquainted, sexually assaulting her in a vehicle, Lamperti said, according to the article. Two others are believed to be involved in the attack, authorities said.
Defense Attorney Ana Tent read a letter from the defendant's mother Friday that outlined some of her son's accomplishments, including Honor Roll, as a volunteer at the , tutor, 3.0 grade-point average student and successful on the basketball team.
Tent acknowledged the charges were serious, but said she did not believe, based on her client's lack of a criminal record, that he posed a risk should he be allowed release to house arrest. She also noted he was innocent until proven guilty. "I think this is something important to consider," she said.
Wright, however, noted a phone conversation between the alleged victim and defendant, as detectives listened in, when the defendant allegedly admitted having sex with the victim while she was incapacitated.
Later, the defendant had another conversation with a detective "where he admitted to what occurred," that being "engaging in repeated acts of sexual penetration on a woman going in and out of consciousness," Wright said. "'Serious' doesn't quite get there."
Assistant Prosecutor Samantha DeNegri echoed the judge's sentiments. "While he may be an excellent student, his alleged conduct is horrific," she said, noting he also was arrested on controlled dangerous substance charges just a week ago in Morristown.
"I am finding it so very hard to juxtapose the [man in the letter] to the one presented in testimony," Wright said. "I must make certain findings inescapable and unavoidable. Out-of-control behavior poses risks to himself and the community. ... I cannot release [the defendant] at this time.
"I hope this did not happen to that child," Wright said.