Youngstown man acquitted of attempted rape

By John W. Goodwin Jr.

The verdict came after a three-day trial.

YOUNGSTOWN — A Mahoning County jury found a city man innocent of kidnapping and attempting to rape a 37-year-old woman.

James Duffy, 52, of Sunset Boulevard, had been on trial before Judge James C. Evans of common pleas court since Monday. Duffy had been charged with two counts of kidnapping, felonious assault and attempted rape, but Judge Evans, after a motion by defense lawyer Robert E. Duffrin, dismissed one count of kidnapping.

A jury of three men and nine women deliberated for several hours Wednesday before finding Duffy innocent of all charges. Duffy was facing 28 years in prison had he been convicted of all three charges.

Natasha Frenchko, an assistant county prosecutor, after the reading of the verdict, said she is thoroughly convinced the woman, also a city resident, was assaulted and held against her will.

“I have no doubt what she said did take place, but the jury returned a verdict, and that verdict does stand,” she said. “It’s a little disappointing.”

Duffrin said the case is an example of how the criminal-justice system does work.

“The system worked. I trust in the system to work correctly, and it worked in this case,” he said.

The woman told police she stopped at Duffy’s home in the late hours one day in May looking for a relative of Duffy’s. The relative was not home, but she accepted an invitation to stay and have a drink.

The woman told the court that Duffy drank 12 beers while she was there, then told her she would not be permitted to leave the home “until you give me what I want.” The woman said she tried to leave, but Duffy punched her three times in the side of the head.

The woman dialed 911 but said Duffy grabbed the phone and hung it up. A recording of that 911 call was played for the jury during the trial.

According to the woman, Duffy dragged her by her hair to a living-room area, then stripped down to his underpants. He began trying to rip off her clothing but was interrupted by police knocking on the door, she said in court.

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