Berthoud man found not guilty of sexual assault

By Amber McIver-Traywick

The Surveyor

A Berthoud man accused of three counts of sexual assault was found by a jury at the conclusion of a five-day trial to be not guilty of all charges.

Benjamin Macaluso, 48, was arrested on charges of sexual assault on a child and two counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, all Class 4 felonies, in April of 2018. The initial trial date was set for May 20, 2019 but had to be rescheduled for the week of Nov. 18.

Macaluso, who took the stand during the trial, denied all of the accusations brought against him.

Benjamin Macaluso

The allegations came from two women who were interning as high school students in exchange for senior pictures with Macaluso in 2009 at his now closed business, BellaClaire Studios. The women testified that he had made sexual advances and inappropriately touched them.

A third female came forward alleging Macaluso had inappropriately touched her at a home while attending a party in 2017 when she was 11.  

The prosecution argued that the accusations met the criteria for the specific charges brought up in the case and the Macaluso had crossed legal boundaries. Deputy District Attorney Brian Hardouin in the closing arguments said, “The defendant doesn’t get to set the boundaries the law does,” and that it was up to the jury to decide the motivation for all three alleged victims to put themselves through the court process without any of them making great elaboration on their accusations. 

Defense attorney, Stephanie Stout, went to great lengths to describe the character and personal situations of the three females. Stout stated in her closing arguments that the youngest girl was in, “a difficult family situation” and that her parents were going through a “contentious divorce.” The other two women had been shown to be “liars” and described as not being, “young, naïve or innocent.” In her closing argument, Stout stated we may never know why the three women made the accusations but they, “probably needed attention.”

The 12-member jury deliberated for several hours on Friday, Nov. 22 returning with the verdict of not guilty on all charges.

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