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Leonia man charged in sex assault on girl gets postponement following audio problems on interrogation discs

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

ONLY ON CVP: A construction worker accused of sticking his fingers into a 16-year-old girl’s vagina and putting her hand on his penis in his van after offering her a ride last summer got a new court date after his attorney said he couldn’t hear his client’s recorded interrogation by detectives.

Wilfredo Arias, 49, hid behind veteran defense attorney Frank Lucianna after spotting a CLIFFVIEW PILOT correspondent.

Wilfredo Arias (STORY / PHOTOS: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Correspondent Mary K. Miraglia)

“Your honor, I need a new date of March 16 because the audio discs are inaudible,” the 92-year-old Lucianna told the judge.

“I can’t hear them, even with my hearing aids in,” he added.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Demetra Maurice didn’t oppose the postponement and said she’d find out what was wrong.

Arias, 49, remained free on $250,000 bail, posted two weeks after his July 3 arrest.

Authorities at the time said the girl called 911 after she managed to break free while he was molesting her in his van.

A five-count indictment returned by a grand jury in Hackensack last October accuses him of sexual assault by “placing his fingers in [the girl’s] vaginal labia through physical force or coercion,” with “no severe personal injury.”

It says he also “[placed] her hand on his penis,” also through “physical force or coercion,” and that he pressed his groin against hers, “rubbing or grinding.”

Included with the one assault and three sexual contact charges is a count of child endangerment.

Arias previously avoided prison time and Megan’s Law registration when New Jersey’s highest court overturned his 2002 conviction on sex assault charges, in a case that set a standard for how jurors are selected, CLIFFVIEW PILOT exclusively reported last year.

A judge in Hackensack sentenced Arias to six years in state prison after jurors convicted him of of sexually assaulting a 9-year-old Little Ferry girl.

But the state Supreme Court overturned the conviction in early 2005, sending it back to Hackensack for retrial, because Arias wasn’t allowed to participate in interviews of potential jurors.

He then took a plea instead.

Arias benefitted from another downgraded plea deal four years ago — again keeping him from Megan’s Law registration — after being charged with sexually assaulting a 7-year old Cliffside Park girl.

After completing his sentence last April 8, he was arrested on the Fourth of July after the Leonia teen said he molested her when she accepted a ride in his van.

Making it all possible: a procedural error. READ MORE….

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

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