CORUNNA — A jury Wednesday took about two hours to acquit Jesse Sanchez, 27, of Howell, of one felony charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, marking the end of his trial in 35th Circuit Court.
The trial began Tuesday morning, and stretched out into a second day after numerous witnesses who worked with and knew Sanchez, and the alleged victim testified, along with Owosso Police Det. Sgt. John Cecil.
Judge Matthew Stewart ended proceedings for Tuesday at approximately 4:30 p.m., before dismissing the jury for the night. They returned Wednesday to hear closing arguments from assistant prosecutor Charles Quick and public defender Doug Corwin, before being given instructions by Stewart and sent to deliberate.
Sanchez was accused of forcing a then-17-year-old co-worker to have sex with him while on a lunch break in August 2017. The alleged victim in the case testified Tuesday and said she viewed Sanchez as “a good friend,” who took advantage of her. The Argus-Press does not typically identify victims of sexual assault.
She said he removed her clothing and forced her to have sex.
Sanchez testified later Tuesday that the victim was the one who initiated sexual advances toward him, and denied she ever told him to stop or get off her.
“She’s the one who started that,” Sanchez testified Tuesday.
Corwin asked Sanchez if the victim had told him to stop at any time. “No. Never,” he replied, and added that he was nervous and unable to perform.
Following the alleged incident, the victim was examined at Memorial Healthcare in Owosso and Sparrow Health System in Lansing for sexual assault. No DNA from Sanchez was found.
Sanchez was charged by Shiawassee County prosecutors May 10 with the CSC-3 count. He was arraigned in 66th District Court June 28 before Judge Ward Clarkson; he pleaded not guilty. Court records show Sanchez posted a $15,000 cash/surety bond July 1, and was free while waiting the disposition of the charge.
Had he been convicted, Sanchez faced up to 15 years in prison. Sanchez rejected a plea offer from prosecutors at a hearing Oct. 28. Under the terms of the offer, prosecutors would have recommended he serve zero to 11 months in jail for a reduced charge of attempted CSC-3.