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Jury mulls 73 charges in sexual assault trial

YOUNGSTOWN — Jurors in the Dustin Ruiter rape trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court went home about 6 p.m. Thursday without reaching a verdict. They will resume deliberations at 9 a.m. today.

Ruiter, 46, of Youngstown’s West Side and formerly of Warren, went on trial before Judge Anthony D’Apolito on 73 criminal charges involving three young female victims, including 33 counts of rape involving two of the victims.

Conviction on those charges alone could result in hundreds of years in prison.

Twenty-one of the rape counts involve the oldest girl. The other 12 counts involve the forceful rape of a girl a year or two younger. Ruiter also is charged with 33 counts of sexual battery, 21 of them involving the oldest girl and 12 involving a younger girl.

The oldest girl testified that the assaults began in December 2018 and continued until June of 2019. She disclosed the assaults to a woman who owned an Austintown thrift store where she volunteered, she said.

The day she disclosed the alleged offenses, she did not bathe and did not change her underwear from the previous day so she could preserve evidence of the rape that took place the previous day, she testified.

The thrift store owner testified that the alleged victim disclosed that Ruiter committed a sex offense against her the night before and many times before.

The woman said she and her husband also took the girl to church many times over about six months preceding the disclosure.

In closing arguments, Jennifer McLaughlin, assistant county prosecutor, recounted for the jury of nine men and three women that an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations scientist identified Ruiter’s DNA in samples taken from the girl’s body and from her underwear.

The odds that the DNA came from anyone else but him is one in 1 trillion, more than the number of people on the entire planet, she said.

Defense attorney Bradley Olsen said the woman who collected evidence at the the hospital when the oldest girl went there after disclosing that she was being raped by Ruiter testified that the girl had “no bruise, no scratch, no scrape, no scar, nothing.” Olsen has said the girls are lying about being sexually assaulted.

McLauglin, however, told the jury that an expert witness testified that only 8 to 10 percent of sexual assault cases involve victims who have injuries.

To believe that the oldest victim made up her story of being raped, one would have to believe she fooled police, the personnel at the hospital and personnel at Mahoning County Children Services.

“And keep these lies straight for two years,” McLaughlin said.

erunyan@vindy.com

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