Jury now unanimous in Old Lyme child sexual assault case: Dionne guilty on two counts

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A jury in New London Superior Court has found 37-year-old Christopher Dionne, an aspiring television personality, guilty of molesting a 10-year-old girl at his home in Old Lyme.

Dionne, 37, faces up to 25 years in prison for risk of injury to a minor and fourth-degree sexual assault when Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed sentences him Dec. 6. In taking his case to trial, he turned down an offer from the state to plead guilty to a reduced charge in exchange for a sentence that did not involve prison time.

Though Dionne is expected to remain free on a $100,000 bond while awaiting sentencing, Jongbloed set additional conditions of release in light of the guilty verdict. The judge reminded Dionne of a protective order that prohibits him from having contact with the victim and added that he is not to be within 100 yards of her. She ordered him to check in by phone daily with the Office of Adult Probation, surrender any firearms and not travel out of state without permission.

Dionne's family and the victim's family had been close, according to testimony, but their friendship was shattered by the allegation that he had touched the girl's buttocks and breasts beneath her cheetah print pajamas during a Nov. 26, 2017, sleepover at his home at 4 Village Lane.

The two families sat on opposite sides of the courtroom Wednesday as the jury foreperson announced the two guilty verdicts shortly before 1 p.m. The jury had sent out a note late Tuesday that they agreed on one of the two counts but were deadlocked on the other. Judge Jongbloed instructed them to go back to the jury room and try to come to an agreement, and they sent out a note saying they now were unanimous on both counts after approximately two and half more hours of deliberation.

The child's mother, who had admitted from the witness stand that she was involved in a sexting relationship with Dionne, put her head on the shoulder of a close friend and wept silently. The girl's father also reacted emotionally.

Dionne looked shocked at the defense table, and in the gallery behind him his wife cradled their daughter, the one-time best friend of the victim, and they both wept.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Theresa Anne Ferryman and Inspector Philip Fazzino from the New London State's Attorney's Office had prosecuted the case with assistance from Victim Services Advocate Stephanie Barber.

Dionne was represented by attorney Michael D. Dwyer.

In addition to the testimony from the victim and her mother, the state had presented evidence showing Dionne's DNA was found in the inner waistband of the child's pajama bottoms and had showed the jury a videotape of a forensic interview conducted by specialists at the Yale New Haven Children's Hospital.

k.florin@theday.com

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