Jury Acquits Woodstock Defendant Of Molestation Charges

Posted: December 21, 2013

WOODSTOCK — A Woodstock man accused of sexually assaulting a young girl was acquitted Thursday after a one-day trial in Shenandoah County Circuit Court.
Mikhail Osterfeld, 38, was arrested July 10 and charged with aggravated sexual battery of a child under the age of 13, indecent liberties with a child younger than 15 and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
A jury found him not guilty on all three charges and he was released from Shenandoah County Jail, where he was being held in lieu of a $50,000 bond.
Osterfeld, a Russian immigrant, a U.S. Iraq war veteran and military contractor, had been accused of telling two neighborhood girls that they could take off all their clothes except for their underwear if they didn’t want to get them dirty while swimming in a shallow creek. He was accused of later molesting one of the girls that day after some of her clothes had been removed a second time.
Osterfeld, who received permission from the girls’ parents to go berry picking in the neighborhood, admitted telling them they could take their clothes off.
He had been on leave from a civilian mission in Afghanistan, scheduled to return there on July 11, and spent some of his free time taking various neighborhood children berry picking or on walks with his dog, he testified. Another child had gotten muddy clothes after playing in the creek, so he thought it was a better idea for them to take their clothes off if they wanted to, he told the jury.
“When I was that age, I swam in my underwear,” Osterfeld testified. “I did not think twice about it. …   It’s a nonissue. Girl, boy, she’s 7 years old, who cares?”
He maintained that the younger girl, who did not accuse him of touching her, took her clothes off while her older sister swam clothed, but the alleged victim testified to the contrary.
The girl was on the stand for more than 90 minutes and defense lawyer Gene Hart Jr. frequently pointed out inconsistencies that had arisen at various times throughout the investigation. She never retracted the accusation that Osterfeld had molested her, but other details were inconsistent.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola argued that her age was likely a large factor in her wavering.
“It’s traumatic to testify in front of 12 strangers,” he said. “Imagine how difficult that would be for an adult, let alone a 7-year-old child.”
Contact Kassondra Cloos at 574-6290 or kcloos@dnronline.com

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