Defendant exposed himself in court. It was key to his acquittal, Connecticut lawyer says

Desmond James, 26, was found not guilty of sexual assault charges.
Desmond James, 26, was found not guilty of sexual assault charges. Meriden Police Department

Desmond James was a suspect in a 2014 assault when a woman who saw his photo in a newspaper recognized the man who sexually assaulted her two years earlier, the New Haven Register reported.

The victim said she was walking on a street in Meriden, about 23 miles north of New Haven, when a man walking near her pushed her into a backyard and sexually assaulted her when she was 19, FOX 61 reported. She flagged down a car that took her to the police station, the news station said.

James had been on transitional supervision from the Department of Correction at the time of the assault, the news station said. A DNA sample taken from James matched with a sample from the victim’s rape kit, and it led to charges against James in 2015, WFSB reported.

When James, 26, stood trial this month for the 2012 assault, his lawyer relied on an unconventional defense to try to win the case.

The woman had reported she was raped by a “dark-skinned black male with big lips and black-people hair,” according to lawyer Todd Bussert, who called the description "troubling," the New York Post reported. But she also said her attacker’s penis was lighter than the rest of his skin, the newspaper reported.

James’ attorney argued at trial that his client wasn’t the man who was identified in a photo lineup, according to the Post. Jurors heard his argument, but they had to see it, too.

“One of the things they taught us in law school is to use the best evidence you have," Bussert told the New Haven Register. “It is what it is.”

James dropped his pants and pulled out his penis in court this week, the Post reported, after a judge agreed that it was his Sixth Amendment right to defend himself.

Bussert then argued in his closing statement that James’ penis is “darker than the rest of his body — the exact opposite of what the complainant said,” he told the New Haven Register.

It worked. Jurors on Friday cleared James of sexual assault charges, the Post reported.

The move was "embarrassing" for James, but worth it, according to Bussert. “I think it really shook [James] up”, he told the Register. “But I think he realizes, having taken that step, that it helped win the day.”

James is behind bars, however. He was convicted of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in 2014 and sentenced to more than 60 years in prison for that crime.

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