Jury begins deliberating in Nieves sex case

The jury that will decide whether former Norwich patrolman Kenneth Nieves is guilty of having sex with a teenage girl began deliberating Wednesday.

Nieves, 45, is charged with three counts of risk of injury to a minor. He acknowledges having had a sexual relationship with the girl, who is now a 23-year-old police officer, but says the relationship did not start until six days after her 16th birthday.

The alleged victim says they started having sex during the cold weather months of 2003 or early 2004, when she was 14 or 15, but cannot pinpoint the date.

In her closing argument, prosecutor Theresa Anne Ferryman said it would not be normal for a 14- or 15-year-old girl to have marked the date on a calendar, while Nieves’ ability to memorize the exact date seems contrived.

Norwich police were investigating claims that Nieves was having sex with women while on duty when they learned about the alleged victim and approached her for a statement. She testified that she reluctantly agreed because she did not want any other minors to be victimized.

“It’s about, really, a man who can’t wait,” Ferryman said. “He can’t wait to get a divorce until he conducts his sexual affairs. He can’t wait to get off duty to conduct his sexual affairs. He can’t wait until she turns 16 to conduct his sexual affairs.”

Defense attorney Charles Tiernan III reminded the jury panel, comprised of five women and two men, how they promised during jury selection to hold the state to its burden of proof.

“You may not like Mr. Nieves, and I’m fairly certain you don’t like the fact that he had a sexual relationship with (the alleged victim) when he was 38 and she was 16,” Tiernan said. “But you promised you wouldn’t hold that against him and would apply the law.”

Nieves, who is no longer employed as a police officer and is divorced, took his case to trial after turning down the state’s offer to plead guilty in exchange for a year in prison, 10 years of strict probation and registry as a sexual offender. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison for each count of risk of injury to a minor.

k.florin@theday.com

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