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New Jersey Man on Trial for Sexual Assault Jumps to Death

A New Jersey man on trial for sexually assaulting a young child jumped to his death last Thursday. Stephen Gucciardo, 42, of Palisades Park, faced up to 30 years in jail if convicted on charges of aggravated sexual assault and child endangerment. Gucciardo was arrested in 2006 and charged with sexually assaulting a six-year-old girl.

Gucciardo, who was out on bail, had not missed a day in court since his arrest. He was present at court when the girl, now 9, gave emotional testimony on the witness stand. He testified on behalf of himself on Wednesday in order to dispute self-incriminating statements he made to police at the time of his arrest.

On Thursday, he was absent for court and when his defense attorney could not track him down, the trial was completed without him. It was later discovered that he had committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge on Thursday morning.

If Gucciardo had been convicted of the sex crimes, he would have faced 20 to 30 years in prison. Upon release, he would be under lifelong parole and would have had to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law.

Prosecutors were disappointed with how the trial ended. They felt it was particularly disappointing that the victim and her family had to be victimized again when they learned about the suicide.

Source:

New Jersey sex abuse defendant leaps to death (Boston Herald)

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