Vandergrift man cleared of all counts in child-rape case
A Vandergrift man on Thursday was found not guilty of all charges for the alleged rape of a 11-year-old girl in 2009.
Gregory T. Cook Jr., now 26, of Hawthorne St., could not be reached for comment.
“The truth came out,” said Debra Bretzin, of Vandergrift, a family friend who attended court each day with Cook's relatives.
The jury of 10 women and two men deliberated for less than two hours before returning the not guilty verdict to all four charges.
In addition to the rape charge, Cook was also found not guilty of indecent assault on a person younger than 13, false imprisonment and corruption of a minor.
Defense attorney Duke George said the alleged victim, who is now 15, “wasn't believable to the jury.”
On the witness stand, the girl testified of a sudden, violent and forceful attack. She testified he told her “something bad would happen” if she ever told anyone.
George said the assault didn't happen and Cook testified to that Wednesday.
George said the first report of the rape was made almost a year later. He suggested that she made up the story in a bid to be returned home from a Tennessee children's home.
He said there were inconsistencies in her testimony.
The girl and her parents testified that Cook drove the girl to his house to clean it because Cook's father was to visit.However, in the police affidavit used to charge him on March 7, 2011, the girl told police that her father had driven her to the house.
The girl told police the alleged assault happened in December 2009. But she didn't tell anyone about it until she was attending an out-of-state school.
George put Cook on the witness stand Wednesday and followed up with other character witnesses.
“I told the jury, ‘Look at the testimony and think if this was your husband, son or your nephew.
“My guy was looking at 10 years in prison if he was convicted of child rape.” George said. “He is relieved it's all over.”
Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Lynn Calisti declined to comment.
Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.