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Former high school athlete convicted of rape

June 12, 1997

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Alex Kelly, the former high school athlete who fled to Europe and lived as a ski bum for eight years to avoid trial, was convicted Thursday of raping a girl a decade ago and was led away sobbing in handcuffs.

``I’m not guilty! I’m not guilty! I’m not guilty!″ Kelly cried. He then looked at the jury and pleaded: ``God, I didn’t do this. Why are you doing this to me? I am not guilty.″

It was the second time Kelly, 30, was tried for raping the 16-year-old in 1986. The first jury deadlocked 4-2 last November in favor of conviction.

Officers led Kelly out of the courtroom in handcuffs, while his mother wept and his father covered his face. Kelly told his parents and his fiancee, Amy Molitor: ``I love you, Amy. I love you, Mom and Dad.″

Kelly could go to prison for 20 years. No sentencing date was set.

After a hearing, Judge Kevin Tierney ruled Kelly could remain free on the $1 million bail he first posted when he was arrested in 1995.

Kelly still faces trial in the case of a girl who accused him of rape four days after his first accuser came forward.

The jury deliberated 8 1/2 hours over two days.

One of the most notable differences in the two trials was the testimony from Kelly’s accuser. She testified that Kelly offered her a ride home from a high school party, then forced her into the cargo area of a Jeep, where, she said, he choked her, raped her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.

During the first trial, the accuser, now a 27-year-old pharmaceutical saleswoman, said Kelly kept one hand on her throat during the entire attack, even when he reached around her to lower the rear seat of the Jeep.

Several jurors at the first trial said they could not understand how Kelly was able to lower the back seat with just one hand.

In the retrial, the woman said that Kelly took his hand off her throat for just a moment to lower the rear seat with both hands.

Kelly was an 18-year-old wrestling star at Darien High School in the well-to-do suburbs of New York City when he was charged in the rape of the 16-year-old Darien girl and the rape four days later of a 17-year-old Stamford girl.

He fled the country days before his trial was scheduled to begin in 1987 and spent eight years traveling the world as a fugitive. His passport shows stamps from more than a dozen countries. Authorities said his wealthy parents bankrolled his life as a fugitive.

Kelly surrendered in Switzerland in 1995 after authorities threatened to arrest his parents unless he turned himself in.

Kelly did not testify at either trial.

His lawyers won two helpful rulings in the second trial. The judge acquitted Kelly of kidnapping, and also allowed the defense to present evidence Kelly’s accuser used marijuana the night she said Kelly raped her.

The defense had hoped to persuade jurors that the young woman _ who admitted drinking beer that night _ consented to sex.

A scientist found the drug in a bloodstain, allegedly the victim’s, in Kelly’s car.

The girl’s family, her gynecologist and police all said the girl told them Kelly raped her. And seven people who attended the party testified that the girl drank a small amount of beer and was sober when she left with Kelly.

In court, jurors saw a poised woman defend herself on the stand as defense attorney Thomas Puccio pressed her on whether she later helped Kelly lower the rear seat.

``He raped me!″ she said, leaning forward and grabbing the edge of the witness box.

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