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Jurors have acquitted a Hallam man of rape and related charges for an incident in Hellam Township on Thanksgiving morning in 2017.

That's because he is innocent, defense attorney Tom Kelley said.

Vincent Rex Soden, 32, is not guilty of rape, strangulation, false imprisonment, aggravated indecent assault, simple assault and defiant trespass.

The jury reached its decision  March 9.

"I'm just happy that the jury recognized what I recognized very early on, and that was that Vince Soden was not guilty," Kelley told The York Dispatch. "Probably more than any other case, I worried about this case — and that's in a 30-year career. ... Because he's innocent."

Kelley said the woman "fabricated on the stand" and maintained that she and Soden had not had intimate contact prior to that morning, Nov. 23, 2017.

But defense witnesses saw Soden and the woman kissing in a car weeks before Thanksgiving, he said.

"My client suffered for 2½ years," Kelley said. "His mother, his family — they all suffered."

'Disheartening': Senior deputy prosecutor Teresa Jauregui said she believes the woman was telling the truth.

"Our office never proceeds forward on charges that we believe to be frivolous or charges that are not credible," she said, adding the prosecution had a "substantial amount of objective evidence," including injuries to the woman's face, neck and genitals.

Jauregui said the woman testified she couldn't recall whether she had kissed Soden in a car in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

"It was disheartening that ... what the (woman) may or may not have done on a previous occasion was so impactful to the jury," she said.

Ultimately, the prosecutor said, she and the district attorney's office must accept the jury's decision.

"That is justice under our system," she said.

After the acquittal, presiding Common Pleas Judge Craig T. Trebilcock found Soden guilty of summary harassment, a charge that had not been sent out with the jury to deliberate.

The judge fined Soden $300 and sentenced him to 90 days' probation, saying he found the woman's testimony credible, according to the prosecutor.

"He also apologized to the (woman) and said it would be little consolation to her," Jauregui said.

Hellam Township Police had alleged that Soden was with a group of people who went to the woman's home after leaving a township bar about 2 a.m.

Police said the incident happened after everyone in the group except Soden had left.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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