Jury finds defendant guilty of sexual abuse of a minor
A Petersburg jury convicted Tore Lenz, 19, of one count of Sexual Abuse of a Minor in the 2nd degree last Friday.
Lenz was charged with two counts of Sexual Abuse of a Minor after having intercourse with Josie Prus, 15, last July after a party because Prus was under 16 years old and at least four years younger than Lenz.
During the trial’s closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Nick Polasky summarized his arguments and said the most important piece of evidence was that Lenz knowingly engaged in sexual relations with a minor and that he could get in trouble for the act.
Prus testified that Lenz made a comment before they had sexual relations regarding how he could get into trouble because she was four years younger than he. Polasky also cited testimony by Prus’ peers regarding comments Prus made. Prus told them she had sex with Lenz and that he asked her not to tell anybody about it.
“There’s a lot of talk on the part of Mr. Lenz about how he knows he could get in trouble for this, how he knows he could go to jail, how he knows he could have to register as a sex offender, how he knows if people find out about this, there could be a problem,” Polasky said.
Polasky said even if Lenz didn’t know her age, a claim the prosecution didn’t maintain, he made no reasonable effort to find out, which according to state law must be done by an individual if they are found to be not guilty of the crime in question.
“In fact…he did exactly the opposite as they were walking away from the party,” Polasky said. “He did almost the exact opposite of what the law requires us to do.”
Lenz’s attorney, John Hedland, maintained that the prosecution didn’t have enough evidence to prove Lenz knew Prus’ age and that there were inconsistencies in Prus’ and other witnessess’ statements about Lenz’s behavior after he and Prus engaged in sexual relations.
“This is where those hairs get split and time passes and you realize which side your bread is buttered on and then you reinterpret those facts…” Hedland said.
Polasky rejected the notion and said Prus reported early in the investigation concerning Lenz’s comments as they walked away from the party.
A Superior Court Judge will sentence Lenz on April 21.