Jurors in the child sex abuse trial of former Ramsey police officer Jeffrey Kimmel split their verdict this afternoon, finding him innocent of the more serious charge of child sexual abuse but guilty of child endangerment through sexual conduct.
Kimmel family members sobbed quietly, with some exclaiming, “Thank God” when the verdict of not guilty to the first count of sexually assaulting a then-6-year-old girl was read. They showed little reaction when the second was announced.
“The family is disappointed,” defense attorney Craig Swenson told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “Jeff is disappointed. They’re having a tough time trying to understand what the jury is trying to tell them.”
“I’m pleased. It was a tough case,” countered Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Demetra Maurice.
“Their decision shows that they not only listened to the child, they heard what she was saying,” she told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
Both Maurice and Swenson agreed that the same penalty, with a sentencing range of 5 to 10 years, applies to both counts.
It’s still a Megan’s law violation, subjecting Kimmel to evaluation as a sex offender at the Adult Treatment and Diagnostic Center at Avenel and lifetime registration under the Megan’s law statutes.
Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Roma set sentencing for July 14 to allow enough time for the evaluation.
However, the No Early Release Act doesn’t apply to the violation Kimmel was convicted of (It would have if he’d been convicted of the other charge).
The guilty finding could also affect Kimmel’s penalty in an earlier conviction for stealing $133,000 for the Ramsey PBA while he was the union’s treasurer for several years.
Kimmel has been in the Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) after serving roughly eight months behind bars.
His sentence also included restitution to the police union, of which Swenson said he has paid more than $100,000.
Swenson said the result is “obviously a compromise verdict” and may be the mechanism jurors used to reach agreement.
Around 11:30 this morning, Roma read the jury an “Allen charge” after receiving a note that said: “After thorough discussion and many votes, the jury is unable to come to a unanimous decision.”
An “Allen charge” — sometimes referred to the “dynamite” or “hammer” charge is used to dislodge deadlocked jurors.
Roughly two hours after Roma read it, jurors reported reaching a verdict — closing two days of deliberations following the six-day trial.
Swenson said loved ones are discussing an appeal.
“The family believes in Jeff,” Swenson said. “I believe in Jeff.”
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.