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Mixed verdict in Fair Lawn rape trial

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

EXCLUSIVE: In a mixed verdict, jurors in Hackensack today convicted a Fair Lawn mason of two counts of sodomizing his former fiancé with a steel-toed boot while clearing him of more serious rape and kidnapping charges.

George Sanchez betrayed no emotion as various “guilty” and “not guilty” verdicts were announced for each of the 13 charges he stood trial for.

Once the verdicts were read, Sanchez sat back in his chair, his hand touching his face.

His former fiancé, sitting in the second row, was impassive, as well.

Sanchez was then returned to the Bergen County Jail, where he’s remained the past year and a half on $300,000 bail, until a sentencing that Superior Court Judge Edward Jerejian set for Oct. 11.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Demetra Maurice said she was satisfied with the results of what she called a “tough” case.

Defense attorney Benjamin Morton, however, said he saw “some inconsistencies.”

“[The jurors] apparently believe something happened,” Morton told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .  “But it was a matter of degree. They did their best to parcel through the evidence the state presented.”

If convicted of all the charges, Sanchez could have easily faced up to 40 years in prison.

He will have been in jail for nearly two years when he is sentenced this fall, said Morton, adding that he hopes the time served will win his client some leniency.

The trial, which began nearly two weeks ago, featured a lack of forensic evidence. None of the considerable samples taken from Sanchez’ home was analyzed for DNA evidence – not bed sheets, nor a fork the victim said he threatened to stab her with, nor two large tubs of lubricant she said he used on the toe of his boot.

Neither the boot nor the sneaker was tested, and photographs of the victim’s injuries weren’t clear.

No medical report was submitted beyond a “discharge paper” given to the woman when she left the hospital.

Describing their relationship, Sanchez told jurors how he had met her in a club in Paterson where she was a social hostess, chatting up customers and encouraging them to buy drinks.  He was 53 and she was 26.

“She was a pretty girl,” Sanchez said.  “She didn’t belong there.”

She, in turn, told jurors she considered Sanchez “a very sweet and nice man” and eventually quit work so she could cook, clean and take care of him and their new Fair Lawn home.

After a few months, however, neither was satisfied with the way their relationship had developed.

A vicious fight broke out, the woman testified, when she received a text message from an old boyfriend.

Sanchez said the situation flew out of control when he broke off their engagement and asked her to move out.

The victim, meanwhile, testified that she was handcuffed by one hand and both feet for several hours, and Sanchez admitted under cross-examination that he works from time to time as a bounty hunter and is skilled in the use of handcuffs, which he said he owns.

“He hit her in head with a steel-toed boot that caused a concussion,” Maurice told jurors. “He hit her repeatedly, choked her, called her a whore and handcuffed her in the bedroom.”

She was confined for hours, beginning at 10 o’clock one night and lasting until 6 p.m. the next, the prosecutor said.

“Every so often he would uncuff her, hit her again, and curse at her,” Maurice said. “He took the steel-toed boot he had used to kick her in the head, put Vaseline on it, and tried to ram it up her anus. He raped her, threatened to kill her, and tried to force a sneaker into her vagina.

“He got a fork and said ‘I’m going to kill you’.”

Finally, the woman said, she grabbed a jacket and pair of pants and ran out of the house, then dressed outside in the dark and called her ex-husband’s father from a pizzeria up the street, asking him to pick her to the hospital.

Once there, she refused a rape test. Nor did she go to the police, she said.

A few days later, she and former father-in-law went to retrieve her belongings. But, Maurice said, he refused to give them up.

It was then that she went to Fair Lawn police, told them what had happened and signed a consent for them to search the house, she said.

Although jurors found Sanchez not guilty of kidnapping – as well as other related charges – they convicted him of false imprisonment.

They also found him not guilty of three counts of aggravated sexual assault but guilty of aggravated sexual contact while the victim was physically helpless.

Jurors also convicted him of attempted anal penetration with the boot while the victim was physically helpless.

The jury found also found Sanchez guilty of a lesser charge of criminal sexual contact through physical force or coercion, and attempted sexual assault of anal penetration with the boot through physical force or coercion.  Likewise, he was found guilty of harassment and threatening to kill and stab the woman.

As part of his sentencing process, Sanchez will be evaluated at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel.

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

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