Jury acquits sex offender on charge

FRONT ROYAL – A man prosecuted for a list of sex offenses elsewhere in the state was acquitted by a circuit court jury Tuesday of attempted aggravated sexual battery against a 3-year-old girl.

Douglas Edward Stanley, 59, didn’t walk out of the courtroom a free man. Judge Dennis L. Hupp ordered Stanley returned to the Rappahannock Warren and Shenandoah Regional Jail to await prosecution for a probation violation in Stafford County.

But the jury verdict, which was reached after 10 minutes of deliberation, saved Stanley from a prison sentence of up to five years, according to state law. The verdict came more than three years after Stanley was arrested and charged after the incident in the Shenandoah Shores neighborhood.

The prosecution accused Stanley of pulling down the pants of a 3-year-old girl and exposing the bottom half of her body during an early morning visit to the house of a woman who once considered him a friend.

The woman, who is also the mother of the girl, testified she saw Stanley kneeling over her child in the darkened living room of her house and watched him flee out the door after he realized she had seen him.

The woman said she went to her child and found that the girl’s pants and underpants had been removed. She said her daughter had gone to bed on a couch with her pants on and had never removed them before while sleeping in bed. The woman also testified that the girl told her that Stanley had touched her on her stomach.

Stanley’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Peter McDermott, argued there was no evidence that Stanley had removed the girl’s underpants or that he had any intention of molesting her.

“This is a reasonable doubt case,” McDermott told the jury in his closing argument.

McDermott said his client was severely drunk and trying to find his way out of the darkened house.

“A reasonable theory is that he was drunk and goes to fall on the couch and underneath is a tiny person,” McDermott told the jury.

Three members of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office testified that they linked Stanley’s flight from the house to a neighbor’s fence that had been damaged by his vehicle as he drove off.

“We put out a BOL,” Master Deputy Robert Mumaw testified, using the law enforcement acronym for “be on the lookout.”

Mumaw, who arrived at the scene after the girl’s mother called law enforcement, said the girl “wasn’t upset at all,” when he spoke to the child.

The girl’s mother testified she and Stanley had been friends for about a year and sometimes drank and “used pills” together. There was no sex or romance between them, she said.

She said Stanley knocked on the door to her house at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2011.

“He was drunk,” she testified, adding that Stanley was slurring his words.

The two spoke for a few minutes in the bedroom before she asked him to leave. Stanley left the bedroom but instead of turning toward the door leading outside, he turned the other way, the woman testified. She said Stanley walked through the kitchen and into the living room where her daughter was sleeping.

Stanley was listed on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry at the time of his arrest and remains there while he awaits a trial in Stafford County on a probation violation. He was convicted in Stafford County Circuit Court in December 1997 on three counts of indecent liberties with a child in the role of a custodian, according to online court records from Stafford County.

Stanley’s prior record was inadmissible as evidence during his trial, a standard principle in criminal law.

Stanley’s record in Stafford County also includes three counts of aggravated sexual battery and three counts of sodomy, all of which were dropped on the same day he was convicted of the other offenses.

The child’s mother is also in trouble with the law. She is facing two counts of distribution of heroin in Warren County.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com