A mistrial has been declared in the rape trial of Anthony Salvatori, a Christian radio DJ charged with sexual assault and indecency with a child from a case dating back to 1999.
Salvatori, aka DJ Tony Lopez of KLTY radio, worked as a DJ at KISS-FM under the name Tony Marino when the incident is alleged to have taken place.
Jurors on Friday sent out two notes saying they couldn't reach an agreement on either the sexual assault or indecency charge.
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Jeff White served as a juror in the case. He said the group could not reach a consensus on the definition of "heavy petting" as it pertained to indecency with a child. There was no forensic evidence, it came down to he said, she said.
"Which way would you have gone? I was guilty, guilty. Do I find her 100 percent credible? No. Compared to him? Yes, much more credible, yes sir," White said. "A 30-year-old man taking a woman, even if he thought she was 18, 12 years difference, he's holding N-Sync tickets, he's in a position of power. He's working at the radio station, he brings her back to his place, he admits they're in the bedroom — that's not very savory behavior for anyone. And, if he truly thought she was 18 then what would stop him from actually having sex with her? Think about that."
The jury was then dismissed and a mistrial was declared. Salvatori was sent home; a date for a new trial has not yet been set.
"Just the accusation in these cases is enough to destroy a life and a career, no matter what happens at the trial level," said Salvatori's attorney Frank Jackson.
"I am not guilty in any way of any of these allegations and that's all I have to say at this time," said Salvatori on Friday. "I'm just looking forward to the future and the truth coming out."
Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Renee Harris said Salvatori basically admitted to the indecency charge when testifying, but jurors expressed confusion on what part of the accusers body constituted a crime in the midst of a make-out session.
"I did expect the indecency case would not be this difficult for jurors," said Harris.
Harris said the accuser is disappointed but, with a retrial a certainty, ready for round two."
Salvatori Testifies; Jury Deliberates Thursday
On Thursday, Salvatori testified that he did invite his accuser to meet him at KISS-FM back in 1999, that he took her and her cousin to eat at Denny's and then they followed him back to his apartment.
Salvatori was 30 years old at the time, his accuser, 14. Salvatori admitted while at his home he and his accuser were in his bedroom, kissing, that he was "aroused" by the encounter which included some "heavy petting."
Under cross examination, prosecutors tried to get Salvatori to define, "heavy petting," as sexual touching.
Salvatori fired back that it could mean a lot of things, that he meant hugging but the act of "heavy petting," was not unlike brushing a fly off a dog.
Prosecutor Renee Harris asked Salvatori, "do you get aroused from petting dogs?" He responded "no" but amid laughter from the gallery and from jurors.
Harris used Salvatori's words against him in her closing argument to the jury.
"Heavy petting is sexual contact and everyone in this room knows it," Harris said. "When there was any discussion of it in this room there was laughter because it's ridiculous to think it might be anything else."
Salvatori's defense attorney, Frank Jackson, told jurors during his closing argument that only a lunatic would knowingly meet a 14-year-old girl, have sex with her and then take her home and meet her mother at four in the morning.
He said the 11-year delay in disclosing the accusation is proof it didn't happen and said money was motivating the accusers actions now.
"I'm talking about the grown woman who got up here and testified about this," said Jackson, while making reference to the prosecution's framing of the accuser as a little girl, "who has a motive in this case, to get her lawsuit together so she can get a big payday about this."
Salvatori's accuser has filed a lawsuit against him and the company that owned KISS-FM. The lawsuit was filed months after Dallas police were already investigating the case.
Both charges are felonies and if convicted, Salvatori could face decades behind bars. He is free on bond, jury deliberations continue Friday morning.