Defendant in molest case found not guilty

GREENFIELD — The mother of a girl who accused a Greenfield man of sexual assault testified against her daughter Wednesday, shortly before a jury found the defendant not guilty.

Ryan Nutter, 30, was found not guilty of one Class C felony count of child molest Wednesday in Hancock Circuit Court at the conclusion of a two-day trial.

A jury of 12 Hancock County residents deliberated for fewer than 30 minutes Wednesday afternoon before reaching their verdict.

Nutter called 911 last fall saying he wanted to speak to an officer after he discovered text messages in which a teenager he’d helped care for said he forced her to touch him inappropriately.

During the investigation and trial, Nutter repeatedly denied any inappropriate behavior with the girl.

Nutter’s relatives, who took the stand Wednesday to talk about his relationship with the girl, told the jury the teenager had been known to tell lies.

The girl’s mother, too, testified in Nutter’s defense, saying her daughter often got into trouble for not being truthful.

Hundreds of pages of text messages were presented as evidence during the trial.

Deputy Prosecutor Georgeanna Teipen, who presented the state’s case, said the messages were proof Nutter cultivated an inappropriate relationship with the teenage girl. She tried to convince jurors Nutter monitored the girl’s texts because he sought to control her, hoping it would keep her from reporting the abuse.

At the same time, Nutter’s defense attorney painted the victim as a dramatic teen, known for making up stories and misbehaving.

Defense attorney Christopher Isom of Greenfield called several of the defendant’s relatives to testify Wednesday afternoon. Each told the jury Nutter kept close watch over the girl, including monitoring her texts, only because she was prone to misbehavior.

Teipen told the jury the girl spent years confiding in her friends about the alleged abuse through Facebook messages Nutter couldn’t access. Friends of the girls testified she made allegations against Nutter in the spring of 2014 and again in the fall of 2015.

But Nutter said those dates correspond with times the victim was breaking up with boyfriends, suggesting she crafted the stories to garner sympathy.

Prosecutors called the team of Hancock County Sheriff’s Department detectives who investigated Nutter’s case to testify Wednesday morning. Detective Tim Cicenas told the jury before Nutter, he’d never faced a suspect who called 911 on himself.

Nutter was simply trying to protect himself against false accusations, his defense attorney argued, telling the jury the girl lied to get attention from her friends.

Nutter was arrested in February and charged with two Class C felony counts of child molest; one of the counts was dismissed prior to trial after investigators determined the alleged incident occurred outside of Hancock County, officials said.

A few months after the initial report of abuse was made, a second girl came forward, alleging Nutter had harmed her as well. Nutter was rearrested and charged with six felony child molest counts; he will appear before a separate jury on those charges at a later date, officials said.

Following the verdict, Nutter was returned to the Hancock County Jail, where he is being held without bond.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.