EXCLUSIVE: Closing arguments in the teen sex trial of VH1 “Love & Hip Hop” star Mendeecees Harris on Thursday centered on the credibility of the woman who said he coerced her into oral sex when she was 15.
- BREAKING NEWS: Jurors in Hackensack this afternoon acquitted VH1 “Love & Hip Hop” star Mendeecees Harris of sexually assaulting a teenager by coercing her with money and other manipulation in his Lodi home when she was 15. READ MORE….
With no direct evidence on behalf of either party, defense attorney Brian Neary and Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Demetra Maurice both presented jurors with the reasons that their client must be telling the truth.
Neary emphasized that Harris took the stand voluntarily and pleaded “not guilty wrapped in the presumption of innocence.”
“He took the witness stand to speak the truth, to look you in the eye,” the defense attorney told the jury.
“I told him: Don’t worry, Mendeecees,” Neary said during his closing argument. “This is a jury that comes not just from one section of Bergen County, not just from one experience.
“The beauty of a jury is you just don’t look at someone through the view of one simple perspective. It’s the collection of your perspective.”
Jurors were to begin deliberating this morning after the three-day trial wrapped up Thursday afternoon.
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VH1 “Love & Hip Hop” star Mendeecees Harris testified today that he hardly knew the woman who said he coerced her into oral sex in his Lodi home when she was 15. “No. No way. No, no,” he said as his attorney, Brian Neary, asked Harris whether he was guilty of any of the charges against him.
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Neary took issue with the key witness not being able to remember dates of specific incidents, citing what he called “contradiction upon contradiction” and “inconsistencies.”
Their Lodi home didn’t have locks, he said, and the woman’s brothers were around, running in and out of the house — making the sexual encounters she described implausible.
Neary also took issue with Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Demetra Maurice’s attempt to untangle Harris’ relationships with three different women.
“How dare the prosecutor suggest that because he had a different lifestyle – that because he had different girlfriends – sometimes at the same time?” Neary asked. “And that he’s a reality TV star who gets $4,000 an episode… How dare she?”
“Not one question contradicted his belief, his strong feeling, and the truth that he had nothing to do with this girl, nothing to do with these sexual allegations,” Neary said. “He broke down and said, ‘I didn’t do this,’ on the verge of tears.”
Maurice, by contrast, instructed jurors that, as a minor, “the victim has no duty under the law to pull away, to resist, to absent herself from the situation.”
“She doesn’t know that because she’s a child and she’s ashamed,” Maurice said.
“This is a child, a child who felt shame and guilt,” she told jurors. “The man she trusted stood in front of her masturbating, ejaculated on her breasts.
“This child closed her eyes and pretended she was somewhere else.”
Maurice asked the jury to consider what the victim had to do to be present at the trial, and whether it made sense that she would do it for no reason.
“She goes to nursing school. She works two jobs,” she said. “And she told you, she put her future on hold, so she could come here and say what happened to her.
“She skipped a semester of school, because if you miss five days, you get withdrawn. And she accepts financial aid and she didn’t want to waste that money. The girl works two jobs. Did she come here because she invented a fantasy world?”
Maurice also cited the woman’s initial statement to detectives, in which she said: “I didn’t want to do it. But at the same time I felt there was more I could have done to stop the situation, so half of it was my fault.”
“She didn’t want to hurt her mother,” Maurice said. “She didn’t cry when she was talking about the sexual acts, because she feels she was involved.
“She cried twice, when she spoke of Mendeecees involving her brothers by coercing her with money for them, and she cried when she talked about her mom, when she talked about feeling bad that her mom and Mendeecee are not going to get married anymore.
“There is only one person who should live with that guilt every day, and that is Mr. Harris,” Maurice told jurors.
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