CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Kanawha County jury found today that former State Police trooper Derek Snavely didn't force a woman to have sex with him in November 2008.
Charleston resident Julie Fato sued Snavely for damages from the incident. The jury, made up of two men and four women, awarded Fato nothing. They said she consented to the sexual encounter with Snavely.
"I'm just very pleased," Snavely said after the jury was dismissed. "I think the jury did a great job examining all the facts of the case."
Snavely said Fato's lawyers offered a settlement, but that he pushed to get the matter to a jury. He said it was very hard waiting more than two years to get his side of the story out.
Snavely also apologized to his family and the State Police for what he did that night with Fato.
"The worst part is how difficult this was on my family and friends... I'm going home very happy," he said.
After the verdict, Fato said she thought Wednesday that the jury might side with Snavely. She maintained that she didn't want money - she wanted justice.
"Why would I have wanted my name dragged in the mud through the newspapers, like I have mental problems, like I'm a slut? I'm more upset about that than anything," she said. "I can't believe that state troopers are not held to a higher standard."
Fato said she was offended that she was painted in the trial as the aggressor.
"He gets by with this. They could have set some sort of precedent for state troopers and now they know they can get by with everything," she said.
Although disappointed, Fato lawyer Mike Clifford said, "The jury did their job and they were a fair jury, an attentive jury, and we accept the verdict," he said.
Clifford, who has represented clients in numerous cases against police officers in recent years, said the verdict would not give him hesitation in taking a similar case.
"Each case sits on its own merits," he said. "It's rather obvious that the jury felt that the plaintiff in this case did in fact consent. That's not necessarily going to be the case in others."
The jury deliberated for several hours on Thursday before giving the verdict. On Thursday afternoon, they asked to see the videos from that evening again.