September 4, 1996 in City

Man Acquitted Of Raping Prostitutes Prosecutor Calls Verdict, Reached In 6 Hours,’Very Disillusioning’

By The Spokesman-Review

A Spokane County jury had to choose between believing four prostitutes or the 32-year-old man accused of raping them a year ago in a city park.

After less than six hours of deliberations, the six-man, six-woman jury Tuesday acquitted Charles Clugston of the crimes.

Clugston, at the time an unemployed electrical engineer with a college degree, admitted having sex with three of the women. He said he paid for their services, then fell victim to a scheme by the women, who stole nearly $500 from him.

Prosecutors said Clugston used the same method in attacking the women the night of March 27, 1995.

He picked them up at different times, drove them to Liberty Park, raped three and tried to rape the fourth but failed, according to Deputy Prosecutor Carol Davis.

Davis told the jury he paid no money and injured all four women. Clugston weighed nearly 300 pounds when the incidents occurred, police reports said.

Defense attorney Mark Vovos said the case against Clugston was far-fetched and filled with inconsistencies.

“They had real credibility problems because of the stories (the alleged victims) told the jury,” Vovos said.

Davis said the verdict “was very disillusioning.” After talking with jurors later, she said they told her they thought Clugston had committed the crimes.

“But they thought we had not presented enough evidence to get them to convict,” she said.

She declined to speculate what evidence was needed beyond what jurors saw and heard. “All I know is we had everything we thought we needed.”

Vovos said the charges against Clugston were part of a pattern of misplaced priorities by police and county prosecutors.

“They always charge cases like this, cases with the emotion of a sex charge, thinking that will affect jurors. But that’s not the way it is,” Vovos said.

Vovos said he saw the same problem occur earlier this year in the trial of a former principal at St. Patrick’s Catholic School.

Vovos defended the principal, 40-year-old Donald Andrews, who was charged with second-degree child molestation.

Davis was the prosecutor in that trial, which ended in a hung jury.

Clugston is now employed as an engineer at Trumark Industries in Spokane. His trial before Superior Court Judge Michael Donohue lasted about two weeks.

, DataTimes

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