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Posted: 4/19/2006 2:50:44 AM EST
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Ex-manager acquitted in sexual assault on busboy
By ERIC HARTLEY, Staff Writer

A former manager at an Eastport restaurant was acquitted yesterday of sexual assault charges in a brutal attack on a young dishwasher.

Edward J. Farrell, 45, had faced felony assault and sex offense charges. Annapolis police said the 18-year-old was violated with a garden hose in an alley outside the Boatyard Bar and Grill.

The young man suffered severe colon damage and underwent surgery twice. But after a two-day trial, Circuit Court Judge Joseph P. Manck said he was left with too many questions about what happened early on June 27 of last year.

"This is obviously an incredibly bizarre case," Judge Manck said. "I just am not convinced of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

Mr. Farrell, who lives outside Annapolis, declined to comment as he left the courtroom. He chose to have a judge decide the case instead of a jury.

The dishwasher, who had a blood-alcohol content of 0.28 percent at the hospital after the attack, testified through a Spanish interpreter that hedidn't remember anything between drinking tequila with Mr. Farrell after closing time and waking up in the emergency room. To get to such a high blood-alcohol level would take at least a dozen drinks in an hour for a 165-pound man.

Police found the dishwasher naked and lying in the alley after a silent burglar alarm at the Boatyard went off about 2:40 a.m. The Capital doesn't identify victims of sexual assault.

Yesterday morning, Mr. Farrell testified that the dishwasher himself turned the garden hose on and sprayed it around the alley.

Mr. Farrell said he wanted to give the man a ride home, but got tired of trying to help a "falling-down drunk" who wouldn't cooperate and decided to go have a drink at Davis' Pub, a couple of blocks away.

But Davis' was closed, and as he came back to get his truck and head home, Mr. Farrell decided to check the kitchen door because the latch hadn't been closing correctly, he said.

Mr. Farrell testified that he walked into the alley just as a police officer got there and didn't know the dishwasher was on the ground until the officer shined her flashlight. He said he lied when he told the officer he didn't know the man on the ground.

"I was afraid of losing my job and what it looked like," he said.

Mr. Farrell was fired days after his arrest. The Boatyard's owner said it was for violating closing policy.

Assistant State's Attorney Frank J. Ragione Sr. suggested that Mr. Farrell is gay and was "grooming" the dishwasher, feeding him shots and flirting as the restaurant closed. Mr. Ragione argued that Mr. Farrell later took advantage of the man after he passed out in the alley.

The dishwasher, who had worked at the Boatyard for less than two months and has since left, testified that Mr. Farrell held women's clothes up to him at one point and said, "You look pretty in this."

Bartender Natalie Baranyk, who was at the Boatyard after closing that night, testified that Mr. Farrell was being "overly friendly, almost flirtatious" with the dishwasher before she went home.

Mr. Ragione said Mr. Farrell's story - that he left an employee stumbling drunk in an alley, fully clothed and spraying a garden hose around, then coincidentally returned and found the man naked just as police arrived - wasn't credible.

Mr. Farrell admitted his decisions that night weren't smart, but said he was drunk, too, having had about six drinks before and during his shift and several shots of tequila afterward. He repeatedly testified that he didn't remember details of the night.

Defense lawyer T. Joseph Touhey suggested the dishwasher slipped and fell on the hose as he was trying to give himself a "shower" to sober up.

The Anne Arundel Medical Center surgeon who operated on the man testified that was very unlikely, given the size of a garden hose.

"It would be hard for me to imagine the nozzle being accidentally inserted in there by being clumsy or by slipping and falling," said Dr. Steven Proshan, a colon and rectal surgeon.

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