A former Boynton Beach police officer acquitted of rape is sleeping in his own bed after more than a year. Stephen Maiorino was jailed since his arrest last October. Even though the criminal case has been decided, the accuser's fight is not over.
There is still a civil suit pending against Maiorino and the city of Boynton Beach. The same sworn testimony used in the criminal trial can be used in the civil one, but as WPTV's Legal Analyst Michelle Suskauer explains, just because he was acquitted of rape and kidnapping charges, doesn't mean he can't be found liable by a civil jury.
Moments after the jury's 'not guilty' verdict was read in court, you could hear a loud cry burst in the courtroom.
"She was devastated. She had to be carried from the courtroom. She's not doing well, she's not taking the news well," said Ian Goldstein, the accuser's criminal defense attorney.
Goldstein says it took a lot of courage for his now 21-year-old client to come forward. She claimed Maiorino forced her at gunpoint to have sex with him on the hood of his patrol car last year. Maiorino, who was on duty, maintains the sex was consensual.
WPTV Legal Analyst Michelle Suskauer says it appears the jury was struggling with reasonable doubt.
"It really came down to the credibility of the complaining witness. Did they believe her or not? Now, he didn't testify and his silence could not be used against him and obviously it was a tactical decision," said Suskauer.
The criminal trial is over, but civil lawsuits against Maiorino and the city of Boynton Beach are pending.
"I have no doubt they will be successful in that lawsuit," said Goldstein.
Suskauer says in a civil suit, the burden of proof is significantly less. Instead of deciding whether Maiorino is guilty, the jury has to determine if he is in any way responsible and liable.
Maiorino's attorney, Michael Salnick says his client does not wish to make any comments. He just wants to move forward.
"It's time for everybody to heal. It's time for everybody to put this behind them," added Salnick.
The accuser's mother says the family is still in shock after Tuesday's verdict.