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Jury convicts on sexual battery charge, but not rape

FORT WAYNE -- He swore nothing happened.

That the woman was upset for no reason, “blew up her friends’ phones” for no reason, found the police and went to the sexual assault treatment center for no reason.

Under cross-examination Wednesday, 28-year-old Paul Bell Jr. insisted nothing happened between him and the young woman after a party last summer on the city’s northeast side.

After hearing from both of them during a two-day trial and after about 2 1/2 hours of deliberation, an Allen Superior Court jury seemed to believe both of them.

The jury acquitted Bell of the more serious rape charge, but convicted him of sexual battery, a Class D felony.

According to his accuser’s testimony on Tuesday, she had nothing to drink in the hours before she went to sleep at her friend’s home after a summer gathering among the former students at Blackhawk Christian School.

She said she’d had a little wine and a little vodka when she first arrived at her friend’s home, but was sober when she went to sleep, after having a conversation with a former boyfriend.

But she testified she was awakened by what she thought was the former boyfriend kissing her, and then realized as he was having sex with her that it was not someone she knew.

Rather, she told the jury, it was Bell, whom she’d met on occasion, but not had a relationship with.

She testified he asked her as he lay on top of her, “Do you know who I am?” She said she told him she did not.

She testified she was unable to get him off her until he fell asleep. After he fell asleep, she pushed him off and went downstairs, contacting police soon after.

In January, Allen County prosecutors charged Bell with rape and sexual battery after DNA taken from her matched a sample he willingly gave when questioned by police early on in the investigation.

Bell alleged she invited him into the bedroom and began kissing him.

After the verdict was read, Judge Fran Gull ordered Bell taken into custody and set sentencing for Sept. 16.

rgreen@jg.net

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