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Judge clears Englewood man on rape charges after year in jail

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

ONLY ON THE PILOT: Two days short of a year behind bars, an Englewood man walked free today after a judge in Hackensack found him not guilty of raping the same woman twice in the span of five weeks.

Superior Court Judge Donald R. Venezia pointed to a night between the alleged assaults when, he said, the woman went to a club where William Alston was working and asked him to play requests for her birthday.

“[N]obody normal would do what she claims to have done in this case,” Venezia said in his ruling. “That she would be subjected to forceful rape, and the go to a club and ask the defendant to play a playlist, and then go back to the club again – it does not make sense to me that anyone would associate with a person who would [rape] her.”

Alston rejected a plea deal offered by prosecutors of five years in state prison — four of which he would have had to serve before being eligible for parole — and opted instead for a bench trial before Venezia.

Authorities said Alston sexually assaulted the woman on April 27 and May 31, 2012 in Englewood. He was arrested on June 26, 2012 after the woman came forward to report that he’d violated the order of protection she’d obtained afterward, they said.

Alston, who has a criminal history involving assault and child endangerment, had been held on $50,000 bail since then. But he left the Hackensack courtroom a free man today.

“The case comes down to credibility, no doubt about it,” Venezia said, expressing his doubts about the alleged victim’s accusations.

In the first instance, the woman contended, she was sleeping when Alston came to visit someone else in the household, went to her room and raped her.

The second time, she said, she came home to find Alston asleep in her bed, so she went to another room to sleep and woke up to find him on top of her.

Two employees of the club where Alston worked testified to seeing pair talking and socializing on several occasions.

On May 18, she went to the club to celebrate her birthday and “gave the defendant a playlist and asked him to play it for her,” Venezia noted.

“When she got there and saw him, she stayed anyway,” the judge said. “She gave him a playlist and asked him to play it.

“She went to the microphone and asked him to wish her a happy birthday.”

The woman claimed that she didn’t call Alston before her birthday, but Venezia cited records showing five calls from her cell phone to his during that time.

After reporting the alleged rapes to Englewood police, she declined to cooperate with a “consensual phone conversation” with Alston that could have provided evidence, the judge added.

Venezia also said that the woman didn’t file assault charges against Alston until after he sent her two text messages in violation of the no-contact order, which she obtained 12 days after she said he raped her.

The judge found Alston not guilty of violating the no-contact order, saying he believed the two texts he sent her were more likely intended for his live-in girlfriend at the time.

“[S]he realized he was texting his girlfriend,” Venezia said, “and that infuriated her.”

(ABOVE: William Alston with public defender Ednin Martinez)

STORY / PHOTO: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

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