Former Norwich officer acquitted on charges of sex with underage girl

By Karen Florin

Publication: theday.com

Published 10/25/2012 12:00 AM
Updated 10/25/2012 12:10 PM

A New London jury has found former Norwich patrolman Kenneth Nieves not guilty of having a sexual relationship with an underage girl.

The jury deliberated for about four hours before reaching its verdict at about 11:30 a.m. Upon hearing the jury foreman say Nieves was not guilty on all three counts of risk of injury to a minor, Judge Arthur C. Hadden dismissed the case.

Nieves, 45, hugged his children. In the past year, he had lost his job as a police officer, been divorced from his wife of more than 20 years and been arrested. Asked what he would do with the rest of his life, Nieves said his life is ruined.

"Really, nobody won," he said.

The alleged victim, now a 23-year-old police officer, had testified that she began a years-long sexual relationship with Nieves when she was 14 or 15 years old. She could not pinpoint the date that the affair started. Nieves testified that they began having sex six days after the girl turned 16, which is the age of consent.

During jury selection, defense attorney Charles Tiernan III had divulged his strategy to prospective jurors by asking what they thought about a 38-year-old man having sex with a 16-year-old man.

"They followed the judge's instruction and did what they were supposed to do," Tiernan said after the verdict was announced. "He indicated from the get-go that she was 16. As uncomfortable as people are with that, it's not illegal."

Prosecutor Theresa Anne Ferryman had argued that Nieves' ability to pinpoint the exact date of the first sexual encounter was contrived.

"The jury was attentive and fulfilled its obligation," she said. "The state, as always, respects the verdict."

In taking his case to trial, Nieves had rejected the state's offer to plead guilty in exchange for a year-long prison sentence followed by 10 years of strict probation and registration as a sexual offender.