Sen. Donastorg Acquitted on All Charges

After a four-day jury trial on charges of domestic violence, assault and gun charges, Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg was acquitted of all charges Thursday evening.
The charges stemmed from an incident late on Jan. 28 in which Keturah Ernest, a 19-year-old mistress to the 48-year-old married senator, appeared at Donastorg’s apartment demanding to be let in. According to Ernest’s original statement, Donastorg took Ernest to her mother’s house and forcibly removed her from his car after she refused to leave. (For a full account of the twists and turns of the Donastorg saga, see links at story’s end.)
At 6:40 p.m. Thursday, when word came out the jury had reached a verdict, the small crowd of family, attorneys and media waiting outside V.I. Superior Court on St. Thomas filed back into the courtroom.
"Have you reached a verdict?" Judge Adam Christian asked the jury of 11 women and one man.
"Yes your honor," the jurors responded not quite simultaneously.
"And is it unanimous?" Christian asked.
"Yes your honor," they said.
The verdicts for each charge were read one by one, in the time-honored ritual. When the fifth and final "not guilty," was read aloud, half the courtroom, filled with Donastorg’s family, friends and supporters briefly raised their arms in the air and gave out a little shout, before the sergeant-at-arms quickly restored order.
Glum and impassive during the trial, Donastorg burst into tears for a minute or so upon hearing the final "not guilty," holding a tissue to his eyes. The judge thanked the jury and announced that all previous conditions placed upon Donastorg before the court were lifted, he was free to go and a formal document of acquittal would be issued shortly.
"This was the most challenging time in my life," Donastorg said outside the courthouse shortly after the verdict. "The jury’s decision has restored my faith in the judicial system .… But if you look at the politicization of the process that took place, you see our leadership injecting politics into the legal process in the worst way."
Donastorg recently lost a partisan primary challenge against incumbent Gov. John deJongh Jr. in which the senator alleged large, secret administration plots against him. In previous years, he has alleged similar conspiracies against him by Jeffrey Prosser, the scandal-plagued bankrupt former owner of Vitelco, back when Prosser ran the company.
During the trial, defense attorney Gordon Rhea repeatedly brought up Ernest’s claims of a political conspiracy. Asked afterwards whether he believed politics played a role, Rhea said, "I honestly don’t know. I stay out of the politics."
Rhea was also asked if Ernest’s seemingly unprovoked assault Wednesday on the sister of Donastorg’s second mistress might have played a role in the verdict (See "Donastorg Mistress Charged with Assault, Disturbing the Peace").
"I think it may have helped our case somewhat with the jury because it underscored her aggressive behavior and unreliability," he said.
Ernest was among those awaiting the verdict at the courthouse Thursday and got into a verbal altercation with some of Donastorg’s friends and supporters while still inside the courthouse, prompting security guards to step in and order her to go outside.
No further incident occurred before the crowd dispersed to their cars.

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