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Charges Dropped Against Glen Rock Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting Child

Richard Lester was indicted on four counts of sexual assault earlier this year.

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli dismissed charges against Lester earlier this month. / File photo.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli dismissed charges against Lester earlier this month. / File photo.
Written by Devin McGinley

Prosecutors have dropped child sex charges brought against a Glen Rock resident and business owner earlier this year, court records show.

Richard Lester, 56, was arrested in February after a grand jury indicted him on four counts of sexual assault that had allegedly occurred between Jan. 2011 and 2012, on a female victim who was then three years old.

On Aug. 4, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli signed a motion to dismiss the charges "due to newly discovered exculpatory evidence," which was accepted by the Bergen County Superior Court.

According to his attorney, Joseph Rem Jr., Lester voluntarily submitted to two polygraph tests following his arrest, one of which was administered by an examiner from the prosecutor’s office, and passed both. Rem contended that authorities had no other "credible evidence of wrongdoing."

A spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office did not respond to a request for comment as of Wednesday afternoon.

“I am extremely relieved that this is finally over,” Lester said. “These last six months have been an unbelievable nightmare for me and my family. You can’t imagine what it is like to be falsely accused based on an unsubstantiated allegation without further evidence, especially when you know that you did absolutely nothing wrong.”

Lester, who founded the Glen Rock-based environmental consulting firm Garden State Environmental, said that since the news of his arrest was reported by multiple media outlets in March, the allegations have had a "serious negative effect" on his professional and personal reputation.

“Can you imagine being a 56-year old man dedicated to his family and community, with a sterling professional and business reputation and no prior criminal record [and] being publicly charged with an allegation only to then be found to have been innocent?” Rem remarked.

According to Lester, while he has been treated as “guilty until proven innocent” in the media and public opinion, friends and family have supported him throughout the legal ordeal.

“At least now I finally have my life back, I can sleep at night and now will work to restore my reputation,” he said.

Pat Amoresano August 28, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Dear Mr. McGinley and Mr. Gerace: Please seriously considering sending your readers a better breaking news email regarding Richard Lester, one which contains an informative headline, a better photo, and a "full post" link box that works. Its the least you can do for a guy who got completely trashed by the original breaking news. Regards, Patrick Amoresano, a friend and neighbor of Richard Lester.
Pat Amoresano August 28, 2013 at 12:51 PM
That's "seriously consider". Sorry about that.
Alfreddie August 28, 2013 at 01:11 PM
How did this happen? A man's life so badly impacted... how did the original charges occur and what are the consequences to the individuals who made the false charges in the first place?
Brian August 28, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Using the mug shot for this story is an absolute disgrace. You would be better off using a picture of the prosecutor who falsely accused him, or of nothing at all. //I looked back at the comments on the original story and many of us were upset at that time about the wording of the headline. Seems like Patch just continues to run this guy through the mud.// I do urge people to look back at the comments from the original story. I think some people posting here owe this man an apology.
Harlan Consider August 28, 2013 at 09:32 PM
All I get from this article is that a Grand Jury determined that there was sufficient evidence to indict, and since then, the guy passed two polygraph tests and now all charges have been dropped. Is that it?
disgusted August 29, 2013 at 07:01 AM
Hey Harlan you have a law enforcement backround, didn't polygraph tests used to be inadmissible?
Dennis Martinez August 29, 2013 at 07:37 AM
Unfortunately incidences such as this are a daily occurrence and those who are falsely charged forever carry the pain that this brings. While the story lacks relevant information, the fact that the prosecutor's office totally dropped all charges is indicative that nothing they have could have held up in court and on the surface indicates that this poor guy was in fact the victim.
Kate Morgan August 29, 2013 at 08:37 AM
Polygraphs are inadmissible. They are considered unreliable. They are used, however, as an investigative tool. The problem for this man is that it is impossible to prove a negative. I worked on a case many years ago in which a teacher was accused of inappropriately touching a dozen pre-schoolers. The trial lasted a year. She was convicted, but the charges were dismissed after appeal when it was revealed that the investigator more or less planted the memories in the children's minds. Did she touch them? The truth will never be known. There, as here, she may have patted the children perfectly innocently and the children told their parents, then the parent and the prosecutors made it out to be something completely different.
Phil Ross August 29, 2013 at 08:48 AM
I was part of the "internet mob" outraged by Mr. Lester's alleged crimes. Our knee-jerk reactions are understandable, but not inexcusable. Whenever we hear of crimes against children - all of our hackles raise. Unfortunately, this incident has the potential of increasing the burden of proof in real abuse situations and also labels Mr. Lester with this stigma. He is faced with recovering is business and good name. I do have to question the Grand Jury's decision to try him tho. There should be more disclosure. How is he to recover his lost wages and reputation?
Brian August 29, 2013 at 09:14 AM
Phil, before going to blame others, could you at least apologize to this man and his family. "I am sorry" goes a long way. // Grand juries are people stuck on very long jury duty assignments who see the cases only as they are presented by the prosecutor. That's why so many of us say people are "innocent until proven guilty." The grand jury didn't say he was guilty, they said there was enough evidence to charge him.
dara brown August 29, 2013 at 10:12 AM
Its been said that you can 'indict a ham sandwich'. Just because a grand jury issues an indictment, that does not mean the evidence supports a conviction. There are lots of politically motivated 'indictments' by grand juries, especially in NYC. Many innocent people get their name dragged through the mud and are eventually found 'not guilty' when a jury is presented with factual evidence and an intelligent defense.
Brian August 29, 2013 at 10:50 AM
The problem for the ham sandwich is that no matter how you dress it up it just never seems Kosher.
disgusted August 29, 2013 at 12:10 PM
To Kate Morgan is the case you are referring to the Maplewood kindergarten teacher? going back in the 90's.
Phil Ross August 29, 2013 at 09:29 PM
Brian, I don't recall if I actually made a statement, but I supported them - at least in my mind. I am sorry for that. It's a shame that things occur like this. How did this situation get so far out of hand?
Jeanette L August 30, 2013 at 12:14 AM
Good question Phil and I think part of the problem you mentioned above is the public and our rush to judgement. And, because of the suggestibility of children, which has been proven time and time again can easily be manipulated. Even adults make bad eyewitnesses and can be manipulated. And we also have to blame the judicial system, where prosecutors, which is a highly political job, can make mistakes, and rarely, apologize or back down when they are wrong. Plus, whoever interviewed this child, and from what it looks like, misinterpreted or influenced the child's account, started the ball rolling.

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