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Arnold man acquitted in rape case

Renatta Signorini
| Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, 12:01 a.m.

An Arnold man let out a deep breath Friday afternoon as jurors who had just acquitted him of raping his former girlfriend left a Westmoreland County courtroom.

Aaron McFadden, 23, embraced his attorney, Valerie Veltri, when the verdict was read.

McFadden was to be released Friday evening from the Westmoreland County jail, where he had been held on the charges for more than two years.

His 19-year-old accuser sat quietly and dropped her head as the jury of five women and seven men announced its decision. Jurors deliberated for almost three hours.

The Pittsburgh woman and McFadden offered jurors opposing testimony this week.

The accuser said that in July 2013, McFadden held her against her will in a locked bedroom of the Arnold house where he was staying. She contended McFadden banged her head against a wall, beat her with her belt, hit her with a gun, attempted to suffocate her with a plastic bag, raped her and held her captive for about 10 hours.

McFadden told jurors the woman concocted the story. They had engaged in sexual activity earlier in the day and later “tussled” when she returned to the house to retrieve a cellphone he had loaned her, McFadden testified.

He was acquitted of aggravated assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment and two counts of rape.

Two of his supporters cried in court.

“Thank you, God,” one said.

During closing arguments Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Judy Petrush told jurors that McFadden's story was not credible. She noted that medical evidence indicated a sexual assault had occurred.

Veltri argued that the accuser lied during her testimony and said the pair had been “hooking up.”

Judge Christopher Feliciani found McFadden guilty of criminal mischief in the alleged incident and ordered him to pay $300 in fines and costs. That summary count was not part of the charges before jurors to decide.

Assistant District Attorney Judy Petrush said McFadden damaged the accuser's cellphone, jeans and fake hair.

Veltri asked Feliciani to find McFadden not guilty of the summary count.

“He served two years in jail already,” she argued. “He said they tussled. He didn't know how (the phone) broke.”

A restitution hearing will be scheduled.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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