Saturday, November 15, 2003 -- ( NORTHAMPTON ) A Hampshire Superior Court jury Friday cleared 33-year-old man of charges of indecent assault and battery on a 14-year-old girl.
Joel C. Bias, formerly of Amherst, was found innocent after a two-day trial of two counts of assault and battery on a person 14 or older stemming from incidents that transpired in 1998 at a church in Amherst.
''He's relieved,'' said Thomas Estes, a defense attorney from the Committee for Public Counsel Services. ''This case has been pending for a year. It takes an emotional toll on a person, especially in an accusation like this.''
Bias had been charged with touching the buttocks of an Amherst teen without consent. The alleged incident occurred in 1998 while Bias and the girl were attending services at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Amherst.
Efforts to reach Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Linda Pisano for comment Friday were unsuccessful.