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A St. Mary’s man has been acquitted of charges of sexual abuse of a minor and a third-degree sexual offense at a one-day trial in the case.

A judge ruled on Tuesday, April 9, that there was insufficient evidence, court records state, to support a conviction on the charges that grand jurors filed last year against Jody Leroy Malinich, now 46, of California, also listed as having an address in Lewistown, Pa.

St. Mary’s detectives filed charging papers alleging that Malinich repeatedly engaged in sexual acts with a female during a five-year period beginning when she was a teenager. The suspect was released on $50,000 bond after his arrest.

Michael Lovelace, Malinich’s lawyer, argued at the onset of last week’s trial that the sexual conduct was consensual, and occurred after the teenager had reached adulthood.

“What they engaged in was on the disgusting side. They may be reprehensible [acts], but they’re not criminal,” Lovelace said.

St. Mary’s Assistant State’s Attorney Julie White argued moments earlier that the activity began when the younger participant was still a child.

“This case comes down to believability,” the prosecutor said. “The issue is when it started.”

jwharton@somdnews.com