Daily Times (Primos, PA)

Jury says no verdict in prison assault

- By Michael P. Rellahan mrellahan@21st-centurymed­ia.com @ChescoCour­tNews on Twitter

WEST CHESTER » The jury hearing accusation­s against a Philadelph­ia man accused of indecently assaulting another inmate at Chester County Prison while he was incarcerat­ed there awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing teenagers at a Devereux Foundation facility failed to reach a verdict on Wednesday.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberate­d for about five hours before returning to Common Pleas Judge Jacqueline Carroll Cody’s courtroom to announce they were deadlocked and could not reach a unanimous decision. They had been asked to determine Robert Rasheed Flood’s guilt or innocence on the single misdemeano­r count of indecent assault for which he was accused.

Cody, who presided over Flood’s two-day trial

— which featured the testimony of the victim, a 20-year-old from Coatesvill­e — excused the jury in the afternoon about 4 p.m. after the panel said it could not reach a verdict, and sent the jurors home, according to those involved.

It will be up to the District Attorney’s Office to determine whether to retry the case in the future. He remains in county prison.

Flood, 33, is currently serving a state prison sentence of eight to 22 years for sexually assaulting three teenagers he had been supervisin­g while he was employed at the Devereux Brandywine facility for children with behavioral problems in West Brandywine. Those assaults took place over a period of several months in 2017 and 2018, and stand as an example of the multitude of criminal assaults that have reportedly occurred at Devereux facilities in Chester County and across the country.

Coincident­ally, it was

Cody who imposed the sentence on Flood in June 2020 after he was found guilty of multiple counts of institutio­nal sexual assault of minors and unlawful contact with minors after a jury trial in September 2019.

According to the prosecutio­n in the indecent assault case, Flood was working as a “tier cleaner” at the county prison in January 2020. According to a criminal complaint by Chester County Detective Benjamin Martin, Flood and the other man, whose name is being withheld by the Daily Local News because of the nature of the charges, were alone together in a maintenanc­e closet on Q Block when the incident occurred.

The other inmate, who was 18 years old at the time of the alleged assault, told the jury that Flood approached him while the two were working and put his hand inside his pants, then touched his genitals. Flood then allegedly said, “Can you keep a secret?” and asked if he could perform oral sex on the inmate. The inmates said he told Flood, “No.”

The defense, rather than contending that the encounter had been consensual, had argued that the alleged assault never took place, and was unsupporte­d by any corroborat­ing evidence. Flood, however, did not take the stand in his own defense to refute the charges.

Assistant District Attorney Myles Matteson, who led the prosecutio­n, argued to the jury that the inmate’s testimony alone was compelling and credible enough for them to return a guilty verdict.

The assault took place, “where no one else could see,” said Matteson in his closing. “It left him scared,” he said of the inmate’s reaction to the assault. “It left him confused. It left him violated. “But (the victim’s) testimony alone is sufficient (to convict.) He was a young man targeted because he was vulnerable.”

Defense attorney Brian McCarthy of Exton, on the other hand, suggested there were enough inconsiste­ncies in the prosecutio­n’s case to create a reasonable doubt and win an acquittal for his client. The inmate had not reported the incident on his own, a video showed him and Flood at the time of the incident acting as though nothing had happened, and no DNA evidence was taken at the time to tie Flood to an assault.

“This is a case about prison,” said McCarthy, who also defended Flood at his trial on the Devereux charges. “It might be alien to a lot of us, but it doesn’t add up. Only two men know what happened in that closet, and I submit to you we still don’t know what happened. Would that have been enough to convict outside of prison? No.”

Flood has been housed at the prison in Pocopson while awaiting trial on the indecent assault charge, but will ultimately be transferre­d to the state correction­al system to complete his sentence on the Devereux counts, no matter what the final dispositio­n of the indecent assault charges are.

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