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Craig Mastantuono May 6, 2013

Attorney Craig Mastantuono and Rebecca Coffee litigated a not guilty verdict in a felony jury trial in Sheboygan County earlier this week, culminating a 4-year period of litigation on behalf of this client that also included a victorious trip to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. For further information see the Sheboygan Press article, excerpted below.

Craig Mastantuono also had an opportunity to practice his amateur photography skills on the art deco details of the Sheboygan County Courthouse, which you can see here.

Jury returns not guilty verdict in sexual assault case

A 51-year-old Whitefish Bay businessman accused of attempting to rape a teenage babysitter four years ago was found not guilty by a jury late Tuesday.

Brad Forbush was arrested in Michigan shortly after the May 2008 incident at his Town of Holland vacation home, and a series of appeals culminated this week in a two-day trial that included testimony from Forbush and the alleged victim, who is now 22. He had been charged with attempted second-degree sexual assault and false imprisonment.

The jury deliberated four hours before returning the verdicts, court records show.

Prosecutors said Forbush invited the woman into his home under the auspice of showing her a video of his triplets. He then showed the woman a pornographic DVD instead and told her that’s what they were going to do, a criminal complaint said.

Forbush blocked the woman’s path to the door when she refused, but she was able to drag him outside and escape after a struggle, the complaint said.

But Forbush testified at trial that the wrong DVD was played inadvertently and that he never mentioned sex, according to his attorney, Craig Mastantuono said. Forbush grabbed the woman because she was leaving and he wanted to explain himself, the attorney said.

“The jury found him not guilty because they didn’t think that amounted to false imprisonment,” Mastantuono said. “They got to gauge the testimony of both Mr. Forbush and (the victim).

He said the jury decided “what we can reasonably surmise happened from the testimony is not what the prosecution said it is.”

The case went to trial after a lengthy series of appeals culminated in the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that statements Forbush made to a detective after his arrest could not be introduced at trial. A Court of Appeals opinion said Forbush admitted in that interview that he suggested sexual intercourse and attempting to restrain the woman, but Mastantuono said Forbush never admitted suggesting sex.

“It was not what you would characterize as a classic confession,” Mastantuono said.

During the interview — which took place May 16, 2008, after Forbush was brought back from Michigan — Forbush gave a verbal and written waiver of his right to have an attorney present. But Forbush had been represented by an attorney while making a court appearance in Michigan days before, and he argued that should make his later waiver invalid.

Judge Terence Bourke, who oversaw the trial, ruled in November 2008 that the statements were not admissible. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals District II in Waukesha reversed Bourke’s ruling in December 2009, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court — in a 4-3 decision — sided with Bourke in April 2011.

Mastantuono noted that the final ruling still would have allowed the prosecution to introduce Forbush’s May 16, 2008, statement at trial if Forbush’s testimony contradicted statements to investigators, but that did not occur.