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California Briefing / Pomona

Ex-Ram Zendejas acquitted in assault case

March 11, 2009|Jack Leonard

A Pomona jury acquitted former Los Angeles Ram Antonio "Tony" Zendejas of sexual assault charges Tuesday, rejecting claims that he drugged a female patron at his popular San Dimas sports bar.

Defense attorney Timothy M. Younger said jurors took less than 90 minutes to find the former kicker not guilty of rape and sodomy by use of drugs. Younger said his client, who faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted, was relieved but also upset that the district attorney's office had pursued the case.

"He's seeking answers as to why the case continued to move forward at incredible expense when the very same evidence that we presented to this jury was presented to the district attorney's office way back in August," Younger said.

Zendejas, 48, testified that he had known the woman for several months before having consensual sex with her at a hotel on Jan. 26, 2008, the attorney said. Younger and defense lawyer James Reiss put on an expert and several witnesses who cast doubt on the woman's assertion that she had been drugged.

A district attorney's spokeswoman said prosecutors believed there was enough evidence to try the case.

"Obviously, we're disappointed with the verdict, but it was a case that needed to be heard by a jury," Sandi Gibbons said.

-- Jack Leonard

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