Eighteen-year-old John. S. Michitson was cleared late Thursday afternoon by a Lawrence jury on all four counts related to allegations of rape and strangulation made in 2016.
Jurors at Essex County Juvenile Court in Lawrence took a little more than two hours to conclude Michitson is innocent of three counts of rape and one count of strangulation. His attorney, William A. Korman of Boston, said the jury carefully studied the information presented at trial.
“We are thrilled to report that young Mr. Michitson was found not guilty on all four charges that had been levied against him. It is obvious that the jury paid close attention to all of the evidence that was before them, reviewed that evidence carefully and came up with what we firmly believe is a true and just verdict,” Korman told WHAV.
Michitson, son of Haverhill City Council President John A. Michitson, was indicted in December 2016 as a youthful offender. According to Carrie Kimball-Monahan, spokesperson for Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett, the designation meant Michitson’s name could be used even though he was a juvenile and could face the same penalties as an adult if convicted.
The verdict came two days into his trial at Lawrence Juvenile Court. Thursday also saw testimony of Michitson’s accuser, a 17-year-old childhood friend of the defendant. During her testimony, the victim said the man she had known since first grade raped and strangled her in the back yard of her home after a party at Haverhill’s Millvale Reservoir Sept. 1, 2016. Korman, argued to the 14-member jury that his client, then 17, had consensual sex with the victim.
The attorney said the Michitson family is warmed by the public’s support during the ordeal.
“Speaking for the Michitson family, I know they received an overwhelming outpouring of support from the community, and I know that they are exceptionally grateful for all of the support they received.”
The state’s case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Shaheen in the courtroom of Judge Kerry Ahern.