Ruling that the prosecution's expert witness went too far when she vouched for an alleged sexual-assault victim's credibility, the state Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a Fairfield man accused of sexually assaulting a young girl six years ago.
"This was a ground-breaking decision and we are extremely pleased with the ruling," Gary Mastronardi, the lawyer representing the defendant in the case, Anthony Favoccia Jr., said Tuesday. "This was a long time coming."
In 2008, Favoccia was found guilty by a Superior Court jury of two counts of risk of injury to a minor and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
He had been accused of sexually assaulting his girlfriend's daughter on at least two occasions in her home in the fall of 2005 and summer of 2006.
A forensic interviewer, who specializes in talking to sexually-abused children, testified at the trial that the girl exhibited behavior that was characteristic of minors who have been sexually assaulted.
Mastronardi appealed the conviction, claiming the expert's testimony constituted vouching for the girl's credibility. The state Appellate Court later overturned the case based on that claim, but state prosecutors filed an appeal to the Supreme Court.
In a 5-2 decision, the state's highest court ruled the expert's opinion could have unfairly swayed the jury to convict Favoccia.
Senior Assistant State's Attorney Cornelius Kelly said he intends to try Favoccia again.