By Anna Bolton
XENIA — A 29-year-old man was acquitted Sept. 25 of charges alleging that he sexually assaulted a woman in a Yellow Springs home last year.
Jacob Pflanzer was on trial this week facing four counts of rape and one count of gross sexual imposition. A Greene County jury deliberated for around three hours before finding him not guilty of all charges.
The now-22-year-old woman showed up and spoke out during the trial, taking the stand Tuesday to describe the alleged violent assault that she said happened April 8, 2018. In an emotional testimony, she explained the sex was non-consensual; the defense argued that it was consensual.
“I think that this is a case of credibility of the witnesses. At the end of the day, it’s a he-said, she-said case. But there’s a lot of surrounding factors and information from other witnesses that I think is considered,” Defense Attorney Adam Arnold said. “[Alleged victim’s] story changed on several occasions. It was incomplete. I think a lot of police investigation in the case was lacking. And I think that the jury, at the end of the day, just had too many questions.”
Arnold spent the morning presenting his case, calling three witnesses to the courtroom.
One was a friend of Pflanzer’s who said he was asleep on the couch during the alleged incident. He testified that he didn’t hear anything that night.
“On the controlled call she said she was screaming. Don’t you think he would have heard her?” Arnold asked the jury.
Another, a co-worker of Pflanzer’s, testified to the defendant’s character — describing him as hardworking, genuine and truthful.
In closing arguments, Arnold critiqued the investigation done by the Yellow Springs Police Department. He argued that Sgt. Naomi Watson should have checked Pflanzer’s phone for the initial Facebook messages when she had it in her possession. He said she should have followed up with supplemental interviews and additional documentation of the victim’s injuries.
“You are the sole investigating officer on this case. And these are serious allegations,” Arnold said.
Arnold also claimed the victim’s story didn’t fully match up with the injuries documented by the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE).
“You can’t take pictures of stuff that’s not there,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Assistant Prosecutor David Morrison urged the 12 jurors to believe the victim.
“What you saw yesterday was a scared 22-year-old girl,” he said, recalling her testimony that she panicked and froze during the assault. “In order for you to find Mr. Pflanzer not guilty, you must conclude that that girl you saw testify yesterday was lying to you. Because if you believe what she said yesterday … then the answer is guilty. They can’t both be right.”
Morrison argued that there was simply no logical motive for her to lie.
“It is so much easier to not say a word than to try to sustain a lie for 18 months — for what? If she told you a lie she would have to know he’s innocent. What would motivate somebody to do that for 18 months?” he asked.
Testimony revealed the victim called her then-boyfriend immediately after the alleged assault and told him that she had just been raped. The man took the stand Tuesday, testifying that she was hysterical.
“Out of nowhere … from the time she left the front door to the time she got to the car she just made this all up? She just flipped?” Morrison asked.
Morrison also recalled the SANE report, which documented her injuries — including multiple reddened areas and a “continuous” marking down her back.
“Mr. Pflanzer said she had no marks or bruises, that she was fine when she left,” Morrison continued. “In order for you to believe him that there would’ve been no marks on her, she would’ve had to have done it to herself in the time it took her to drive from Yellow Springs to Kettering while she’s on the phone hysterical.”
The attorneys walked outside the courtroom after the verdicts were read.
“We are disappointed but we respect the jury’s verdict,” Assistant Prosecutor Cheri Stout said.
Said Arnold: “I think Mr. Pflanzer’s reaction is relief. He’s been going through this for over 18 months. His story has never changed since day one … I think this is something that will impact him for the rest of his life, which is sad.”