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Case dismissed by U.S. court after alleged rape victim commits suicide

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Case dismissed by U.S. court after alleged rape victim commits suicide

2010-11-12 08:09:27 GMT+7 (ICT)

DETROIT, MICHIGAN (BNO NEWS) -- A Michigan court has dismissed the case against 18-year-old Joseph Frank Tarnopolski for allegedly raping a minor after the 14-year-old girl committed suicide on Monday.

The alleged victim, Samantha Kelly, hanged herself on Monday after reporting that Tarnopolski forced her to have sex with him. Tarnopolski, who admitted to having sex with Kelly, was facing up to 15 years in prison even if the girl consented to have sex with him as under Michigan law it is impossible for a minor to consent to having sex.

The case was dismissed and the charges were dropped as the death of the girl meant that there will be no victim testimony in the case. Kelly did give a statement to police before committing suicide, but the Wayne County prosecutor's office said it cannot be used in court because it is considered hearsay.

However, Huron Township Police confirmed that they are investigating a second similar complaint against Tarnopolski and will likely be presented to the prosecutor’s office next week. The relatives of Kelly had previously said that Tarnopolski raped another girl but that she was reluctant to denounce it.

The other girl reportedly declined to comment on Tarnopolski's actions after witnessing the taunting and bullying that Kelly received from Huron High School students because she and her mother gave an interview to a local TV station in which they accused Tarnopolski of rape.

After enduring weeks of harsh treatment Kelly received, she decided to commit suicide the night before she was scheduled to testify. In the weeks after the interview, many students began supporting Tarnopolski with T-shirts and Facebook comments and giving Kelly a hard time at school.

Police said that the evidence gathered through text messages and statements from both Kelly and Tarnopolski indicated that the sexual encounter was consensual. However, as the girl was 14 years old, it was indeed a rape case. The 18-year-old man was charged with third degree criminal sexual conduct.

"They struck up a relationship after meeting in class. He liked her. She liked him. What he did was illegal under Michigan law and he came to understand he would have to pay a price for it," Attorney Matthew Evans said. "But, her mother wanted a pound of flesh and she made that terrible, terrible step of going on Fox 2 and changing the story from one where both kids said it was a loving, affectionate encounter to forcible rape."

Tarnopolski and his attorney argued that Kelly did not tell police about any force until her mother took her to Fox 2 and openly accused him of rape.

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2010-11-12

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