Jury finds East Lyme man not guilty of sexually assaulting teen

A New London jury found a 44-year-old Niantic man not guilty of sexually assaulting a teenager following about two hours of deliberation Tuesday in Superior Court.

Raza Rahi of 15 Freedom Way, Apt. 7, dropped to the courtroom floor and prayed upon hearing he had been acquitted of second-degree sexual assault, risk of injury to a minor and illegal sexual contact with the intimate parts of a minor. Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed thanked the six-member jury and dismissed the case.

"Thank God," Rahi said on the way out of the courtroom.

The alleged victim had testified last week about incidents she said took place in the past in another state and locally during the spring and summer of 2017. Senior Assistant State's Attorney Theresa Anne Ferryman also had elicited testimony from the girl's mother, who was highly emotional, stormed out of the courtroom during a break and referred to Rahi's attorney as a "bully" on her way out of the courtroom.

Rahi, represented by attorney Michael A. Blanchard of the Suisman Shapiro law firm, had testified in his own defense, saying the incidents never happened. Blanchard introduced to the jury text messages indicating the girl's mother threatened to call police and report the incidents if Rahi didn't pay her.

"I'm glad the jury system worked," Blanchard said.

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