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Jurors, strategy in place for Nieves sex trial

By Karen Florin

Publication: theday.com

Published October 11. 2012 3:00PM   Updated October 12. 2012 12:18AM

Attorneys completed jury selection in the sexual misconduct case of former Norwich patrolman Kenneth Nieves Thursday in New London Superior Court.

Six jurors and two alternates will begin hearing evidence in the case on Oct. 22 before Judge Arthur C. Hadden.

Nieves, who worked for the city police department from 2002 to 2011, is accused of having a sexual relationship with an underage girl, while on duty, between September 2003 and January 2005. Nieves has turned down a plea offer from the state that would include a one-year prison sentence, 10 years probation and registering as a sexual offender.

The state had initially charged Nieves with three counts of second-degree sexual assault and three counts of risk of injury to a minor. Prosecutor Theresa Anne Ferryman said she removed the sexual assault charges as she prepared the case for trial because the statute of limitations for that specific charge expires after five years.

She said she is going ahead with the risk of injury charges, which the state can bring for 30 years after the alleged victim reaches the age of majority. Each count of risk of injury to a minor, which is a Class B felony, carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The alleged victim, who is now a 23-year-old police officer, is expected to testify at the trial. Defense attorney Charles Tiernan III provided a glimpse of his defense during voir dire, asking each of the prospective jurors how they feel about an older man having sex with a younger woman. Nieves claims the girl was 16, which is the age of consent in Connecticut, when the relationship took place.

"Do you have a bias against older men who have sexual relations with a younger woman?" Tiernan asked the potential jurors. "What if the man was 38 and the girl was 16?"

Ferryman will attempt to prove to the jury that the girl was 14 — too young to legally consent — when the relationship began.

"Our state statutes do draw a line in the sand," she told one potential juror who had commented to Tiernan that it 'takes two to tango.' "Under 16, our law doesn't recognize that right to tango."

k.florin @theday.com

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