PHOENIXVILLE - During an interview Friday afternoon, Stephen I. Baer, attorney for Robert Nattle, said the real victim in his client's sexual assault case was both Nattle and his family.
"The real victim in this case was Mr. Nattle and his family, due to an unjust prosecution," said Baer. "My client and I believe in the jury system, and they did justice in this case by exonerating all of the criminal wrong-doing in this case."
Following a three-day trial last week before Chester County Judge Phyllis Streitel, Nattle, 53, of St. Mary's Street, Phoenixville, was cleared of a variety of sexual assault charges in connection with an alleged rape of a borough women in her residence last June.
Baer said the jury, which consisted of six men and six women, deliberated for two hours before returning their not guilty verdict.
"The jury didn't request one exhibit out of 35 that the Commonwealth presented before them," said Baer. "Their failure to request anything showed that they totally rejected the complaining witness' testimony. In fact, the jury found my client's version of the events to be credible."
The woman, whose name is being withheld by The Phoenix, told police she was at the Friendship Firehouse bar in Phoenixville when she saw Nattle walk in around 3:45 p.m. June 27.
According to police reports, after each had a beer at the bar, Nattle gave the woman a ride home, and dropped her off in front of her residence. Police said Nattle returned approximately 15 minutes later with a six-pack of beer. Police reports stated that Nattle raped her.
Baer said that Nattle had admitted to having sex with the woman, but that it was consensual.
"The Commonwealth offered no physical evidence for rape or forcible sex, nor any scientific evidence as well," he said. "In addition, there was evidence that the complaining witness had consumed more than 3 to 4 beers and was using prescription morphine at the time. However, she denied drinking and using morphine. At the preliminary hearing before District Justice (Ted) Michaels, she admitted to taking morphine every day.
"We provided two witnesses who testified that on various occasions the complaining witness would drink in excess and use morphine."
Baer said that his client's reputation was far more credible than the complaining witness.
"Bob Nattle has an excellent reputation for being a peaceful and non-violent person," said Baer. "We offered five character witness who said he exhibited those same traits.
"However, the complaining witness wasn't credible and was portrayed as a lonely person who lives with several cats and was in need of company. Two of our witnesses stated that she had a bad reputation for honesty."
Baer said his client "went through a horrible ordeal, and suffered public humiliation and embarrassment."
"He's been found not guilty, and I'm glad that he was," said Baer. "But he was forced to contest criminal charges, along with the publicity and anxiety of a jury trial, in which his liberty was at stake.
"It is truly unfortunate that we cannot undo the negative impact this experience has had on Mr. Nattle and his family."