Jury acquits man of forcible sodomy charge

FRONT ROYAL – A local man was acquitted Tuesday of forcible sodomy after a two-day jury trial in Warren County Circuit Court.

The verdict, reached by a jury of 10 men and two women after 15 minutes of deliberation, left defendant Gene David Butler overjoyed and the victim doubled over, sobbing and holding her head in her hands.

The victim and several doctors were among the witnesses who testified during the trial.

Butler was accused of injuring the victim during anal intercourse and continuing to have intercourse with her for 20 minutes after she screamed in pain and attempted to get him to stop. The couple was living together at the time of the incident on Nov. 17, 2014.

Defense attorney Eric Wiseley told the jury in closing arguments that Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Madden and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Anna Hammond had failed, despite testimony from doctors called as prosecution witnesses, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim’s injury was a result of non-consensual sex. One doctor testified as a defense witness.

Wiseley said the evidence showed the intercourse began and ended as consensual. The nature of the intercourse in between was the only issue in dispute, he said. Wiseley said the victim had soured on her relationship with Butler and wanted to gain custody of their two children by accusing him of rape.

“She’s not the one on trial here today,” Madden told the jury after hearing Wiseley’s theory about the victim’s motive.

Butler, who had been facing a sentence of between five years and life imprisonment, leaned over and embraced Wiseley after the verdict for acquittal was read.

“I defend my clients to the best of my ability in every single case,” Wiseley said shortly afterward. “I honestly believe that Mr. Butler was innocent, and I believed that from the beginning, and I’m grateful that the jury did as well.”

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