- Associated Press - Friday, March 2, 2012

CASTLE ROCK, COLO. (AP) - A Colorado jury acquitted former Denver Broncos cornerback Perrish Cox of sexual assault charges on Friday, a verdict that was met with disbelief by the alleged victim.

Cox was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at his apartment in September 2010 after a night of partying. She became pregnant, and prosecutors said DNA tests indicated Cox was the father.

Cox hugged his attorney after the verdict was read, while the alleged victim let out an audible sigh and a cry. As she was leaving the courtroom, she said, “Oh my God, what’s happening?”

Cox expressed appreciation for his attorney, Harvey Steinberg, and others who supported him during the trial.

“I love my lawyer and everybody else who’s been,” with me, he said.

Steinberg had disputed the DNA test results and suggested they may have been contaminated. During the cross-examination of witnesses, he tried to paint a picture of drunkenness and of the alleged victim being able to interact with people without remembering.

“We always felt there were substantial holes in the case,” he said after the verdict. “We had hoped they (the jury) would see those same holes.”

Jurors left the courthouse without commenting.

The woman’s attorney, Craig Silverman, said she still believes she did the right thing by going to police, and she doesn’t want other sexual assault victims to be discouraged from coming forward.

“There was wrongdoing and dishonesty by Perrish Cox and his teammates,” he said. “The truth is not changed by this verdict. Perrish Cox knows what he did.”

Cox denied having sex with the woman, who testified that she believed she was drugged because she remembers little about what happened.

Cox was charged with one count of sexual assault while the victim was physically helpless and one count of sexual assault while the victim was incapable of determining the nature of the conduct. He faced two years to life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors had laid out what they believed was a straightforward case. They cited the DNA evidence, as well as testimony from Cox’s teammate, Demaryius Thomas, who said he saw Cox carry her onto his bed and say, “she’s ready.”

Prosecutor Chris Gallo said Cox’s statement showed what state of mind he was in. Gallo told jurors that Cox expected to have sex with another woman at the apartment, Carthy Che, who testified she was sick. And there was the alleged victim, lying on his bed and “ready.”

Jurors heard from the alleged victim on Wednesday. Cox did not testify, but jurors on Friday saw a portion of an interview with detectives conducted the night he was arrested.

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