Man Acquitted Of Sexual Assault On Woman He Met Online

By Terry Hillig

EDWARDSVILLE – Tearful testimony from a woman who said she was sexually assaulted after answering an online employment ad proved not enough to convince jurors, who deliberated two hours Thursday before acquitting the lawyer she had accused.

"I thank God for what happened today," said Meanith Huon,40, of Chicago, who did not testify in his own defense.

His lawyers had characterized the incident in July 2008 — which began in a St. Louis bar and ended when the woman showed up hysterical at a house along Interstate 55 near New Douglas — as consensual.

"Obviously, we’re very relieved," said attorney Scott Rosenblum, who handled the defense with lawyer Mike Mettes. "It has been a difficult ordeal for Meanith." He said he client will resume practicing law in Chicago.

Madison County State’s Attorney Bill Mudge said he was disappointed. "We thought the victim was credible," he said. "Obviously, the jury did not."

Huon had been tried here this week on two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault.

The woman, now 28, of Carlinville, said she met Huon in downtown St. Louis as she responded to a Craigslist ad for promotional work.

The two drank at several bars, but she said she came to fear for her life when Huon became loud and aggressive after they drove into Illinois. She said she was fondled and forced to perform a sex act before jumping from the moving car and running for help.

Prosecutors played a 911 recording of a caller who said a hysterical woman came to her home and said someone was trying to kill her. In the recording, a woman could be heard in the background sobbing and in apparent hysterics.

"She was terrified, she was scared, she was frightened and she thought she was going to die," Prosecutor Chris Hoell said in a closing statement to the jury. He told jurors that when the woman jumped from the car, she left behind her shoes, her purse and other personal effects which were later found in a trash bag in Huon’s apartment.

But Rosenblum told the jury that her testimony contained numerous inconsistencies, some of which he said were lies tailored to explain evidence that did not conform to her original statements to sheriff’s deputies. He said some of her claims were "at war with common sense."