Pickerington Times-Sun

Rape retrial set for former Pickerington Central football player

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LANCASTER, Ohio — A former Pickerington Central High School football player faces a Sept. 24 retrial on a rape charge unless his lawyer and the Fairfield County prosecutor are able to negotiate a plea agreement.

Roger L. Lewis Jr. was charged with two counts of rape alleging that he attacked a classmate during their senior year. A jury acquitted him of one count but deadlocked on a second, resulting in county Common Pleas Court Judge Richard E. Berens declaring a mistrial on Feb. 21.

County Prosecutor Gregg Marx and Assistant Prosecutor Melissa Schiffel want to retry Lewis on the rape count on which the jury reached an impasse. Lewis could face a maximum of 11 years in prison if convicted.

“A majority of the jurors favored a guilty verdict, and Ms. Schiffel and I believe we may be able to convince 12 jurors in a future trial,” Marx said yesterday.

Columbus attorney Neil Rosenberg, who represents Lewis, said he was not surprised by the push for a retrial. “I think it’s very common that cases are given a second go after an initial hung count,” Rosenberg said.

That could be avoided if Lewis takes a plea deal.

“We are in discussions,” Rosenberg said. “It appears that the likelihood of a plea agreement is remote.”

The jury deliberated for more than two full days.

The classmate testified that she had been raped. Lewis said they had consensual sex. The Dispatch does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they agree to be identified.

Lewis, a standout wide receiver who was recruited by Ohio State University, was accused of raping the woman on a couch in the basement of another classmate’s house on Dec. 2, 2011. That was the count on which the jury acquitted Lewis.

Lewis also was accused of raping her on Jan. 6, 2012, in the back seat of her car while it was parked outside an empty lot in a Pickerington subdivision. The jury deadlocked on that count.

Both Lewis and the woman now are 19.

Lewis, who is free on bond, recently asked the judge to modify his bond conditions so that he may attend Jireh Prep Athletics, a school in Matthews, N.C., whose website describes it as a post-high-school college-prep program.

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