BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — PEABODY — A former Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent from Florida was found not guilty yesterday of raping his former girlfriend’s young daughter during a family trip to Peabody in 2007.
Neil Julien, a supervisor at an ICE detention facility in Homestead, Fla., was charged two years ago after the girl, now in her late teens, disclosed the alleged incidents.
She told jurors that the incident occurred while she, her mother and Julien were staying at the Hampton Inn on Route 1, while attending a relative’s graduation from Peabody High School. But that day was particularly hot, and she said, she became engrossed in an episode of “SpongeBob SquarePants.” She stayed at the hotel that day, along with Julien.
While alone with him in the hotel room, she told jurors, Julien came out of the shower and demanded that she perform a sexual act on him.
Julien and his attorneys, Ronald Ranta and Larry Hanfield, contended that the incident never happened and suggested that the girl’s mother had induced the girl to make up the accusation to get back at Julien for not buying her a house. The woman has two children with Julien.
Julien’s brother took the stand to describe a phone conversation in 2008, more than two years before the girl disclosed the alleged abuse, in which the girl’s mother purportedly threatened to “bring him down,” referring to Julien.
Judge Maynard Kirpalani had allowed that hearsay testimony from the defendant’s brother over the objection of prosecutor Jessica Strasnick.
The Salem Superior Court jury deliberated for two days before reaching a verdict.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.