By Jennifer Osborn
ELLSWORTH — A Hancock County jury Wednesday found a Milford man not guilty of the alleged rape and assault of a Dedham woman.
The two-day trial started Monday, recessed Tuesday due to a judicial scheduling conflict and resumed Wednesday, with closing arguments given around 10 a.m.
Defendant Howard Frye and the woman met on a social networking site on Feb. 5, 2015, and after numerous conversations over social media, met at her house on Feb. 10, where Frye was accused of raping and assaulting her, according to court testimony.
Frye, 53, took the stand Wednesday morning.
Defense attorney Robert Van Horn asked Frye why he went to the woman’s house.
“To meet, to get to know each other better, to see if there was any chemistry between us,” Frye said. “I just wanted to know if we had a connection.”
Frye testified that when he arrived at the woman’s house, she invited him in and offered him coffee. He declined the coffee because he’d drank an energy drink on the way over. The two sat on her couch and talked for several minutes.
“How long were you talking?” Van Horn asked.
“Fifteen to twenty minutes,” Frye replied. “We seemed to get along pretty well. I asked her if I could have a hug. We embraced for a little bit and then we started kissing. We were kissing for 10 minutes or so on the couch.”
“… At that point, I suggested going into the bedroom,” Frye testified.
Frye and the woman went into her bedroom and had sex, he said.
“She didn’t tell you no?” Van Horn asked.
“No,” Frye replied.
“Did she push you away at any point?”
“Did she ever tell you to stop?”
Deputy District Attorney Toff Toffolon prosecuted the case. He did not cross-examine Frye.
Closing arguments commenced after Frye’s testimony.
Van Horn questioned the woman’s truthfulness and consistency. The attorney said the woman was not “forthright” with investigators, telling them that the website where she met Frye was for “gaming” not “dating.”
There also was a discrepancy in the woman’s report to police about who removed her pants and underwear, Van Horn said.
She “repeatedly told Detective [Steve] McFarland that Frye removed her pants, underwear and boots,” Van Horn said. “Then she testified Monday that she took her pants off herself.”
“Discrepancies raise more than reasonable doubt” about the woman’s credibility and truthfulness, the defense said.
Toffolon argued during his closing that the jury needed to use common sense in deciding the case.
“The inconsistencies” in the woman’s testimony are “meaningless, a smoke screen,” Toffolon said.
Toffolon cited testimony from Penobscot County Sheriff Detective William Birch that when he arrived, “she was so upset all she could do was nod her head in response to him.”
“Does that sound like consensual sex to you?” Toffolon asked.
Showing the jury a piece of paper with the woman’s face, taken after the alleged attack, Toffolon asked, “if she had consensual sex with Howard Frye, why did she rub her skin raw? She rubbed her face raw to get his smell off her.”
Van Horn was not immediately available for comment Wednesday afternoon.
District Attorney Matt Foster, who handles media requests for his office, declined to comment.