Feeney is found guilty on 3 counts But jury acquits police veteran of felony charge

August 01, 1996|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

A Circuit Court jury convicted yesterday 17-year county police veteran Michael Dennis Feeney of attempting to sexually assault a Severna Park woman while he was in uniform moonlighting as a security guard at the Annapolis shopping center where the woman worked last December.

After nearly three hours of deliberation, the jury of eight men and four women convicted Feeney, 40, of an attempted second-degree sex offense, a fourth-degree sex offense and battery, all misdemeanors. He was acquitted of a second-degree sex offense, a felony.

He could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years each on the attempted sex offense and battery charges, and one year on the fourth-degree sex offense charge. Sentencing will be Sept. 30.

Feeney's relatives, who sat together in the second row of benches behind him, breathed sighs of relief and clutched their chests when the jury foreman read the not guilty verdict for the felony charge.

But tears began to well in their eyes as the foreman pronounced the guilty verdicts on the other charges against Feeney.

Feeney and his relatives declined to comment, but defense lawyer Gill Cochran said he was disappointed his client wasn't cleared entirely.

"It was obviously a compromised verdict," said Cochran, who added that he intends to seek a new trial. "We're happy he wasn't convicted of the felony."

The victim, a 30-year-old former manager of a Rite Aid store in Parole Plaza, said she was pleased.

4 "I feel justice was done today," the woman said.

Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen Rogers said she also was happy to get a conviction.

"These cases are very difficult to prove," Rogers said. "You rarely get a conviction at all."

Feeney is awaiting trial on charges of raping a woman in another December 1995 incident.

He was indicted by a grand jury in April on 10 criminal counts in that case, including first- and second-degree rape.

Feeney remains suspended without pay from the Police Department pending the outcome of that trial, according to Sgt. Jeff Kelly, a police spokesman.

Feeney could face administrative charges in that case after the Internal Affairs unit completes its investigation, said Kelly.

The conviction ended a three-day trial in which a parade of present and former county police officers and supervisors testified.

The victim accused Feeney of forcing her to perform a sex act on him the night of Dec. 12, 1995, after she locked up the store.

Police learned of the incident in March when an officer investigating another complaint against Feeney called the woman and asked for a statement.

Feeney, who testified on his own behalf, insisted the encounter was a spur-of-the-moment affair that was consensual.

Closing argument

But Rogers scoffed at the notion in her closing argument.

"The defense would have you believe that months after this wonderful, consensual sexual encounter; after the parties have had no contact with each other, [the victim] said, 'I guess I'll make up a story.' And as luck would have it, she didn't even have to call the police, the police called her," Rogers said. "That doesn't make sense."

Cochran argued that the victim didn't report the assault until four months after it occurred, and that, according to Feeney's testimony, she had four opportunities to get help or escape during their encounter.

Feeney testified that the woman answered the phone twice during their encounter, left a third time to get paper towels and afterward went into the store to get a package of cough drops.

"There were four opportunities that she could have reported, left or done something," Cochran said. "I believe there were plenty of times when, if [the victim] wished to run, she could have."

Pub Date: 8/01/96

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