Jury clears Massachusetts man of child rape charges

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A jury has acquitted a Massachusetts man of child sexual assault charges that stemmed from accusations from three women.

The Republican newspaper reports that 49-year-old James Smith, of West Springfield, was found not guilty Monday in Hampden Superior Court of two counts of child rape, four counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or older.

Prosecutors alleged the assaults occurred from 1996 until 2001.

Smith’s attorney told jurors the first woman didn’t come forward until 2015 and that woman persuaded the other two to report similar crimes. He said their stories were 15 years old and didn’t make sense.

Prosecutors say the girls were afraid to come forward because they were threatened.

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