NEWPORT, Ore. — The family of a woman who died before she could testify against the man accused of binding her with electrical tape and sodomizing her says they found justice with the man’s conviction.
Thomas Acosta was convicted of sodomy, second-degree sexual abuse and two counts of fourth-degree assault on Friday, The Oregonian reported.
His accuser, April Loper, told police that Acosta knocked her unconscious, bound her and raped her repeatedly in December 2011. Loper also told her family that Acosta had threatened to kill her if she talked about the assault.
But Loper and her father died in a car crash in October. Her statements to police were ruled inadmissible as hearsay.
Acosta’s defense then asked for the removal of the jury, which ultimately heard a fraction of the prosecution’s evidence.
“Oh thank God,” said Loper’s cousin, Marcy Bidwell, when the verdict was read. “Good, now we can forget about him. Now, it is just about April.”
Lincoln County deputy chief District Attorney Marcia Buckley sought exceptions to hearsay rules that would have allowed Loper’s statements to a nurse who conducted her medical exam, as well as statements to family and friends.
Lincoln County Circuit Judge Charles Littlehales ruled the testimony would not be allowed.
Court documents depict a violent attack that left Loper fearing for her life and her family, and left her vulnerable to a second attack that lasted for more than a week.
Loper and Acosta had begun seeing each other sometime around October 2011. Loper grew afraid of Acosta, too afraid to end things with him, relatives said.
Court documents say Loper was attacked by Acosta on Dec. 15 as she worked in her shop. The documents say Acosta knocked Loper unconscious when she hit him back.
She was bound with electrical tape when she awoke in the loft of the shop, according to the documents, which say Acosta repeatedly assaulted, sodomized and raped Loper throughout the night.
Acosta let Loper go in the morning but stayed close by whenever she was around others, according to the court papers.
Loper told friends, but “swore them to secrecy … convinced if she went to the police Acosta would make good on his threats to her and her family,” the documents say.
On Christmas Eve, Loper got in Acosta’s van and left with him to protect her family from him, according to the documents. Loper’s family waited for her to join them for their Christmas celebration, but when she didn’t show up, they called police.
“We had a great jury,” said Kathy Wagner, Loper’s aunt. “They didn’t have a lot of evidence to see. They could not hear anything April said to anyone.
“Every single report April had done was not admissible,” she said. “All the documents from the police and the hospital, those were all major things the jury couldn’t hear. Even with all the evidence they didn’t get to see … I felt they were going to read between the lines and have the sense to figure out the truth.”