Portage Man Acquitted of Child Sex Assault Charges

It was a day of joy Wednesday for a local man accused of sexually assaulting a young child - he was acquitted of the charges.

The Portage man was charged in October 2004 with sexual assault of a child younger than 13 years old. A young child accused him of the abuse after being in the care of his wife's day-care service, according to court documents.

The man said he is happy the case is over, and it was difficult going through the ordeal. "It was a case that should have never happened," said his attorney Stephen Eisenberg. "It should have never gone this far."

The defendant made headlines in April 2005 when he helped arrange a funeral for Donald Czyzewski, a man who was found dead of monoxide poisoning in a camper in Columbia County. The defendant also helped get Czyzewski's remains returned to the man's family in Illinois.

During the trial, which started Monday, the alleged victim and the defendant both took the stand. "Just the nature of the case made it a little more emotional, a little more personal," Columbia County Clerk of Courts Susan Raimer said.

After just two-and-a-half hours of deliberation, the jury delivered the verdict. While the defendant said he and his family and friends were happy with the outcome, Columbia County Assistant District Attorney Linda Hoffman said the family members of the alleged victim were devastated. "They spent a lot of time crying," she said. It was a difficult case for the prosecution in the beginning, Hoffman said. This case, like many others of the same type, didn't have a witness to the alleged crime and there was no physical evidence. "That certainly doesn't make for an easy case," Hoffman said. "(But) that's the nature of these kinds of cases."

The defendant said he's moving on. "I've had to live with this for a year and a half and I'm glad it's over," he said.