Former fire official acquitted of rape charges
A former D.C. fire captain was acquitted of rape and other related charges Friday at his second trial in connection with an alleged sexual assault on a 23-year-old woman who had passed out at a party, according to court records and authorities.
Tony Sneed, 49, of Fort Washington, had been accused of attacking a friend of his stepdaughter in August 2008 as she lay on a mattress in the stepdaughter’s Calvert County home. He was convicted of second-degree rape in June 2009. But in September 2009, a Calvert County Circuit Court judge ordered a new trial for Sneed in part because the judge had misread a jury instruction. Jurors returned a not guilty verdict in that trial Friday, after three days of testimony and about six hours of deliberation, said Kathryn Marsh, the Calvert Assistant State’s Attorney who handled the case.
Robert Bonsib, Sneed’s defense attorney, said the case boiled down to “two adults who had too much to drink and made poor judgments about their personal conduct.” Neither could remember what happened, he said, and prosecutors tried to equate that lack of memory with a lack of consent.
“One of our efforts this time was to try to crystallize the fact … that you can’t prove lack of consent just because you don’t remember,” he said, noting that witnesses at the party saw the woman sitting on Sneed’s lap in a bikini before the encounter.
Marsh said she had tried to prove that the woman was too intoxicated to give consent at the time of the encounter, and that Sneed should have known that.
“Of course, the state’s disappointed, especially in light of last year’s verdict, but we certainly respect the jury’s decision,” Marsh said. “That’s our judicial process.”
Some time after the charges, Sneed resigned from his position at the fire department. Bonsib said the acquittal is the first step toward restoring his reputation.
“Finally, after two years of hell, a jury has acquitted him and hopefully at least restored some of his reputation and given him the opportunity to rebuild his life,” Bonsib said. “These allegations really destroyed what was otherwise an unblemished firefighting career.”
(This post has been updated.)
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