Kevin Shea | For NJ.com By Kevin Shea | For NJ.com
on June 18, 2015 at 8:00 PM, updated June 19, 2015 at 9:14 AM
TRENTON — A federal jury on Thursday found a New Jersey Army National Guard soldier not guilty of sexually assaulting a female soldier during a party at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst last year.
Ioannis V. Karazoupis, 28, of Flemington faced life in prison if convicted. Yesterday afternoon, he walked out of the Trenton federal courthouse a free man.
Karazoupis’ attorney, Jerry Ballarotto, credited the jury with cutting through the emotion and focusing on the facts, a very difficult set of facts.
“This was a difficult case and it was just full of information and everybody’s interpretation of what happened” Ballarotto said.
Plus, the mere image of a young woman being sexually assaulted is horrifying,Ballarotto said. “I think the jury did a really good job. They focused on the facts.”
The alleged assault occurred May 4, 2014 in a barracks room as guard members partied and drank alcohol following annual exercises. The victim, an 18-year-old female guard member, was identified only by her initials, S.R.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Day had argued that the victim was so inebriated that she could not have given consent when the two had sex in her shared barracks room.Day alleged Karazoupis knew of S.R.’s altered state and went to her barracks room intent on taking advantage of the situation.
Ballarotto argued the sex was consensual, and took issue with the barracks doors, which automatically shut and lock. He elicited testimony from one witness that the doors could only be opened by a key or from the inside.
In his closing statements, Ballarotto said he suggested the victim knew the sex was consensual and blamed Karazoupis to protect herself from the military’s fraternization policies.
Ballarotto said he believes the jury found there was reasonable doubt in the victim’s version of what happened and many of the facts “just didn’t add up.”
Ballarotto said Thursday that the military took the victim’s side immediately and allowed the woman to proceed in her guard service, and a deployment, and her identity was shielded.
Karazoupis, meanwhile, was discharged from the military and had his name splashed around the media.
Now, Karazoupis wants his name and career back, Ballarotto said. “We’re going to continue to fight that battle.”