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Fargo rape case goes to the jury

A 35-year-old Fargo man accused of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old girl testified Friday that she was his best friend but he never raped her. Jonathan Jay Herman, 205 14th St. S., looked straight at the jury as he denied raping the girl, now 15, ...

A 35-year-old Fargo man accused of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old girl testified Friday that she was his best friend but he never raped her.

Jonathan Jay Herman, 205 14th St. S., looked straight at the jury as he denied raping the girl, now 15, who testified Wednesday that he fondled and raped her numerous times from August 2005 to March 2006.

Herman faces a Class AA felony charge of gross sexual imposition, which carries a maximum sentence of life without parole.

The 12-member jury, made up of nine men and three women, received the case just before 3 p.m. Friday.

The jury did not reach a verdict Friday and went home at 5 p.m. The panel will begin deliberations in Cass County District Court again at 8:30 a.m. Monday.

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Herman offered his version of an incident that his wife, Sarah, 52, testified about Thursday. Sarah Herman said that this spring she got out of the shower and found him without pants on and the victim partially undressed in the couple's bedroom.

Herman said nothing happened between him and the girl, explaining to jurors he was changing when the girl came into the room and made a sexual advance toward him. His wife walked in seconds later.

In his closing statement, Herman's attorney, Jeff Bredahl, said the girl's allegations were part of her web of lies, also saying the state did not prove its case.

"There's reasonable doubt screaming out of this courtroom," Bredahl said.

Assistant State's Attorney Leah Viste reminded jurors during her closing statement that Sarah Herman first reported the abuse, not the girl.

"Why would (Sarah Herman) lie about this?" Viste asked the jury. "What does she have to gain?"

Readers can reach Forum reporter Brittany Lawonn at (701) 241-5541

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