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Jury: Man not guilty of rape
Will serve three years on bribery charge
Michael Sullivan appears in court during a trial June 18. - photo by Emily Saunders
Following more than three hours of deliberation, a Forsyth County Superior Court jury found a man not guilty of forcing a woman to have sex with him.

Michael Sullivan, 42, of Long Hollow Drive, was tried last week on one count of rape and one count of aggravated sodomy in connection with a September 2008 incident.

Sullivan was sentenced June 18 to three years in prison and five years on probation following a jury’s conviction on the charge that he attempted to bribe his accuser to drop the rape accusations against him.

His wife, Carly, and an acquaintance, James Roberts, pleaded guilty to the same charge earlier in June.

The 11-man, one-woman panel delivered its verdict in the rape case late Friday, after three days of testimony.

Forsyth County Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Scalia characterized Sullivan in her opening statements as a man who “has to be in control” and “likes to brag and show off.”

She said Sullivan and his accuser met Sept. 18, 2008, at a Forsyth restaurant and nightclub and he bought alcoholic drinks for the woman.

Scalia said the two later got into Sullivan’s car in the parking lot to wait for the woman’s friend. He then got on top of her, kissed her and restrained her. Shortly after, he drove her to his boat at an area marina.

While there, Scalia said, Sullivan raped the woman, who was eventually able to call a friend to pick her up.

Sullivan’s attorney, Art Leach, argued that his client was not guilty of rape or aggravated sodomy.

“He committed no crime,” Leach said.

He also asserted that in the prior trial, Sullivan did not take the stand and “no defense was presented in that case. He reminded jurors the guilty verdict in that case did not mean a guilty verdict in the one they were hearing.

He said Sullivan never ordered the woman a drink, but let her order and then paid for the drinks.

He said the two had been drinking on the night in question, which affected the woman’s actions and perception of the events of that night.

“Evidence will demonstrate in this case, due to her intoxicated state her inhibitions were down,” he said, later adding that they were both "acting impulsively in the heat of the moment."

“The evidence will prove it was not rape, aggravated sodomy or aggravated sexual assault,” Leach said.