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Dover man found not guilty of sex assault but convicted of drugging three women in Portsmouth

Union Leader Correspondent

March 09. 2014 6:20PM

Aaron Bonds was found not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman, but guilty of drugging her and two friends after a night of bar hopping in downtown Portsmouth in July 2012. (JAMES A. KIMBLE PHOTO)

BRENTWOOD — A jury found a Dover man not guilty of sexually assaulting a 26-year-old woman, but convicted him of drugging her and two of her friends after they went bar hopping around downtown Portsmouth.

The jury’s wrangling over its verdict prompted Judge Kenneth McHugh to declare a mistrial for Aaron Bonds, 45, on two other counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault.

A jury foreperson acknowledged to McHugh late Friday afternoon that their findings would likely not change if they were given more time to deliberate.

Portsmouth defense lawyer Brian Lavallee said after the verdict that his client denies that he sexually assaulted the woman.

“Mr. Bonds respects the hard work and thoughtfulness of the jury in reaching their verdicts in this case,” Lavallee said on Friday afternoon. “As has been the case from the beginning, Mr. Bonds adamantly denies any improprieties with anyone.”

Bonds was ordered held at the Rockingham County jail pending sentencing.

He faces up to 3 ½ to 7 years in state prison on the eight drug convictions, but for now, has dodged the potential for a much longer punishment on the sex assault charges.

County prosecutors will have to decide whether to re-try him on charges which allege that Bonds provided one of the women cocaine laced with a drug 20 times more powerful than morphine then sexually assaulted her while she was getting ill outside a friend’s apartment.

Prosecutors said that Bonds met two of the women on July 10, 2012, at a local restaurant, and provided one of them with the laced cocaine.

Later in the night, Bonds met up with three of them at an apartment where they were drinking beer after a night of bar hopping. Bonds had put out more of the cocaine for the women to use, but did not take any himself, prosecutors argued.

Lavallee argued at trial that the state had no proof that the cocaine was laced with any drug, nor could they actually put it Bonds’ hands.

The alleged victim of the sexual assault, and the two other women, who were granted immunity, all testified about taking the cocaine and knowing right away that there was something wrong with it.

Bonds, a convicted sex offender, faced the potential of up to 20 to 40 years in state prison had he been convicted on Friday of the sexual assault charges. In 2003, a Strafford County jury convicted him of raping a woman. He was sentenced to three to six years in state prison.

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