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Jury acquits West
By Kate Thayer
Kane County Chronicle
July 25, 2006

ST. CHARLES – A jury acquitted a Geneva man Monday of having sex with a 14-year-old girl and then providing her with marijuana afterward.

David West – already a convicted felon – cried and embraced his parents after hearing the jury's verdict. West was one of the 17 people convicted in last year's deadly brawl in Plato Township. He served jail time and still is on probation for the Feb. 12, 2005, fight that killed 20-year-old Nicholas Swanson.

The jury deliberated for 21/2 hours before returning the pair of no- guilty verdicts for both misdemeanor charges – criminal sexual abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Throughout the daylong trial, prosecutors presented their case, saying that although the sex was consensual, West, then 18, knew that the girl was underage when they had sex Feb. 7, 2005, in his Geneva home.

The now-15-year-old girl took the stand Monday and acknowledged that in the early morning hours after Super Bowl Sunday in 2005, she engaged in consensual sex with West, whom she met at the pizza restaurant where they worked.

She told jurors that although the two did not discuss age, it was an "unspoken" factor in their relationship. She also said that other co-workers discussed her age near West and had a "bet" regarding her age.

West testified that he thought the girl, whom he described as the "aggressor," was at least 17. Then, weeks after they had sex, she told him otherwise, he said.

The two met in the fall of 2004 when they both started working at a South Elgin restaurant. West delivered pizzas, and the girl worked the phones.

Because of her age, the eighth-grade girl needed special permission from her school and a work permit from the state to work in the restaurant.

The girl testified that she developed a crush on West and the two started hanging out.

She said that on several occasions, she called West after her parents went to sleep, and he would come to her St. Charles home. The two then would spend time together in the family's rec room – a room constructed from a detached garage next to the home.

At first, the girl's older, high-school-aged sister spent time with them, too, she said.

The sister testified Monday that she didn't like West and warned him to stay away from her sister.

"I don't like you hanging around my sister," the sister said she told West in early 2005. "There's something fishy. She's only 14."

West then reportedly told the sister that the two were "just friends."

During cross examination, the sister said she didn't disclose the specifics of this conversation in her police statement, but did tell police that she didn't approve of West and confronted him.

Eventually, West and the girl started spending time alone together, according to testimony.

Around midnight Feb. 7, 2005, the girl called West and invited him to her home, according to West's and the girl's testimony.

West came over, and the two were in the rec room before going to West's car to have a cigarette. Eventually, West drove the girl to his house, where they had sex for 45 minutes in his bedroom in the basement.

Afterward, the two drove around and smoked. Although prosecutors and the girl maintained that she smoked a marijuana cigarette that West had given her, Defense Attorney, Kathleen Colton, denies that West gave her drugs.

Court records referring to a police interview with the girl show that after they had sex, West said, "Oh my God, do you know how old you are?" The girl then said, "Yes, 14." West then stated, "I can go to jail for this."

The girl testified Monday that West told her, "don't say anything to anyone," when they finished having sex.

The girl's mother also testified at the trial. She said she spoke with West on the phone after she knew about his interaction with her daughter, which she described as a "tragedy."

She said West was crying on the phone and apologized.

"He knew he made a mistake," she said. "He specifically said he was sorry."

West testified that he spoke with the mother minutes after the girl told him she was 14 – six weeks after their sexual encounter.