Criminal Justice

Citing contradictory evidence, judge overturns sex assault verdict; juror is 'absolutely appalled'

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Advocates for victims are expressing concern after a Pennsylvania judge granted a defense motion for a judgment of acquittal in a sexual assault case.

Judge Alexander Bicket of Allegheny County acquitted 24-year-old Joon Woo (Jason) Baik on July 22 after jurors had found him guilty of sexual assault, report the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and WTAE.

Bicket cited “unreliable and contradictory” evidence that he thought to be incapable of supporting a guilty verdict.

Baik was convicted on the sexual assault charge in May but was acquitted on a charge of rape of an unconscious victim, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Among those who disagree with the judge’s decision are Pennsylvania’s victim advocate, two jurors, and a representative of Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.

“I’m absolutely appalled,” juror Leslie Mason told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Baik, a former student at Carnegie Mellon University, had secretly made an audio recording of the September 2018 incident at his apartment. The women who alleged that she was sexually assaulted was a University of Pittsburgh student.

Mason said the tape shows the woman both gave consent and took away consent several times. “Collectively, we felt like just because you get one green light, you can’t ignore the red light,” Mason told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, using an analogy used by prosecutors.

The tape also made clear that the woman was drunk and unable to give consent, Mason said.

Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Bicket’s decision “sends a chilling message to survivors that at any moment, a judge can throw out your verdict, he can throw out your justice.”

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