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Mass. Trooper Pleads Not Guilty to Sex Charges

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts state trooper has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges his attorney blames on a contentious divorce

Thirty-eight-year-old Jason Willard of Auburn was arraigned Friday in Worcester Superior Court on three counts of indecent assault and battery and two counts of open and gross lewdness. Judge David Ricciardone continued his case to Nov. 9.

Willard was indicted last week. Prosecutors said the incidents allegedly occurred in 2008 when Willard was off duty and involved an 18-year-old girl.

Willard’s attorney tells WHDH-TV (http://bit.ly/UA6fb8) his client is “astonished” by the allegations he said recently surfaced in his divorce case. Michael Erlich said Willard “absolutely will fight these charges.”

Willard has been suspended indefinitely without pay while his case is resolved. The state police also are conducting an internal investigation.


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