A Manhattan resident was fully exonerated of charges stemming from the supposed sexual assault of his former roommate's girlfriend, which he blamed on his recurring sleepwalking habit.
Manhattan Criminal Court jurors found 27-year-old Nick Liu not guilty of misdemeanor forcible touching and third-degree sex abuse early Friday, as the New York Post notes, for the sexual assault of the unnamed victim, which took place after a night of drinking with the accuser and Shane Payne, Liu's ex-roommate, two years ago.
"I'm very happy to have my life back," an emotional Liu relayed to reporters outside the courtroom, arm-in-arm with his teary mother, Lisa Philips, and girlfriend, Alexandra Berg.
As stated in court documents, the trio of young adults -- Liu, Payne and Payne's girlfriend -- reportedly celebrated Payne's partners visit from Florida on September 11, 2015, with a trip to Lower East Side saloon Libation, where all three admitted on-stand to drinking "heavily."
"After the couple tossed back a few drinks at Libation, they returned to his [Bedford-Stuyvesant] apartment and had sex," the Post continues, and afterward bid each other "good night" with the girlfriend remaining in Payne's bedroom to catch some shut eye, and Payne instead heading to the living room to read a book.Some time later, according to Payne's girlfriend, she awoke to find Liu leaning over her and planting kisses all around her neck while aggressively groping her.
"The brunette bodybuilder, who has posed [in the past] for a Hooters bikini calendar," the Post goes on to note, "[said she] yelled, 'Stop! Stop!,' as she shoved the 155-pound [Liu] off of her."
Liu maintained during his testimony that the sex act occurred while he was sleepwalking, a malady he's suffered from since childhood.
"[The accused] said he fell asleep [sometime] that morning and his next memory was of, 'someone jostling me [awake] quite aggressively,'" writers for the Post goes on to say.
Once Liu fully came to and realized he had been sexually assaulting Payne's girlfriend while sleepwalking, he said he became instantly "distraught" and started hyperventilating.
"I was breathing quite fast," he expressed to Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Steven Stratsinger.
"I just felt horrible."Liu's remorse incidentally mirrored Payne's recollection of the defendant's actions immediately following the alleged incident.
"[My girlfriend woke me up], screaming, 'Nick f*****ed me,'" Payne provided to the court, "and I stormed into Nick's room. [He said], 'I'm so sorry, I can't believe [I did] this,'" he added.
Liu's girlfriend of five years, Berg, was also called to the stand by her boyfriend's lawyer, Dan Ollien, to offer her account of Nick's past sleep disturbances, which she said took her by surprise once they began dating.
"The first few times it happened, I didn't know he was asleep," Berg explained, adding that Nick's hands often find their way to her breasts and vagina, unconsciously, while he slumbers.
"He woke up during it [once]," Berg continued, "and [I saw] his eyes go from 'unconscious' to 'confused.'"
As part of her testimony, Alexandra also told jurors that Nick called her immediately after he attacked Payne's girlfriend and just as with Payne, showed nothing but remorse for molesting the woman.
"He felt horrible about what happened," she said, as the Daily Mail adds.
"He [ended up] moved out of the apartment the following weekend because he wanted to live alone to ensure nothing like this would happen again."Liu's family, including his mother, father and sister, were noted by the Post as being part of the gallery throughout Nick's trial, which at times, became noticeably uncomfortable for Nick's mother, who was once asked on-stand by the opposing counsel if her son ever inappropriately touched his sister or herself during one of his sleepwalking excursions.
"Was there ever a time when your son was sleepwalking that he put his fingers in your vagina or your daughter's," District Attorney Mimi Mairs crudely inquired.
"That's awful," Ms. Philips was said to have shouted back.
"What is wrong with you?"The sexual assault victim Liu molested while sleepwalking did not offer comment on the "not guilty" verdict.
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