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This news story tells of her latest courtroom victory.

By Dean Manning  Sentinel Echo, London, Ky.

A nearly yearlong ordeal came to an end Wednesday for William Ray Taylor, when a jury found him not guilty of statutory rape.

“It is just a huge weight lifted off of me,” Taylor said.

Testimony in the case began Tuesday in Laurel Circuit Court where Taylor was facing one count of third-degree rape for allegedly having sexual relations with a female who was under the age of 16 at the time. The jury returned the verdict about noon Wednesday to the relief of Taylor, his family and his attorney Brenda Popplewell.

“We are just so grateful to the jury,” Popplewell said. “They were very smart and attentive. We are very thankful we have the system we do.”

Taylor gave the credit to Popplewell for her efforts on his behalf.

“I owe this woman my life,” Taylor said.

Taylor was indicted by the Laurel County Grand Jury in August 2006 on one count of third-degree rape. According the indictment, on June 16, 2006 Taylor engaged in sexual intercourse with B.L.B, a child under the age of 16 years old at the time.

Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Harold Dyche said under Kentucky law a person under 16 cannot consent to sex with a person over 21 years old.

“I’m disappointed,” Dyche said of the verdict. “I know the jury had a difficult job sorting through all of the evidence.”

Taylor said this case shows just how easy it is to bring rape charges. However, he is going to try to put this behind him.

“This is a big weight lifted off of me,” Taylor said. “I’m going to go home with my wife and kids.”

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