Jury deadlocked, mistrial declared in rape and sexual assault trial of Allegheny Township man

·2 min read

Sep. 24—A mistrial was declared Friday in the cases against an Allegheny Township man accused of rape and sexual assaults by five women and a teen.

Jurors deliberated nearly 14 hours over two days and reported they were at an impasse and unable to reach verdicts on all 24 counts in six cases against Eric Alan Wright.

Prosecutors contended Wright, 49, raped five of his accusers and improperly touched and exposed himself to a sixth alleged victim over about two decades dating back to the early 2000s.

Westmoreland County Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio dismissed the jury at 2:30 p.m. after the foreman reported that no additional deliberations would result in unanimous verdicts.

Prosecutors said they will seek a retrial.

The mistrial did not free Wright from jail as he awaits a second trial. He remains behind bars in lieu of more than $1.1 million in bonds set in his cases. Prosecutors said a second trial is not expected before December.

"I believe the victims are credible and deserve justice," said Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Calisti Tyberski.

Jurors did not speak publicly on Friday, but both Tyberski and defense attorney Bill Difenderfer met with them at the conclusion of the trial and said the final tally showed nine of 12 jurors favored conviction. The jury was made up of nine men and three women.

Difenderfer said Wright, who has maintained his innocence and has been in jail since his arrest in January 2020, was frustrated with outcome of the five-day trial.

"I'm actually not surprised," Difenderfer said of the deadlocked jury. "The witnesses credibility just wasn't there."

Six accusers testified during the trial.

In all, Wright faced five counts of rape, four counts of sexual assault, eight counts of indecent assault and other related offenses in connection with his six accusers.

Wright was one of two witnesses who testified for the defense. He claimed his accusers made up the allegations and denied having any improper sexual contact with any of them. He suggested they colluded as part of a plot to seek a portion of a $350,000 civil court settlement he received in 2019 and 2020 for injuries he sustained after he was attacked by a dog.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, rcholodofsky@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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