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Three NYC police acquitted in sodomy trial

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three New York City police officers were acquitted on Monday on charges one of them sodomized a man with a police baton on a subway platform and two others helped cover it up.

After one full day of deliberations, and a relatively speedy four-week trial, a jury in Brooklyn state supreme court cleared the three police officers on all counts.

Prosecutors had alleged Richard Kern sodomized tattoo parlor employee Michael Mineo in a subway station with a retractable baton after chasing him for smoking marijuana.

Fellow officers Andrew Morales and Alex Cruz were also present and charged with attempting to cover up the assault.

"I feel great, I'm glad the system works. I've had faith in the Brooklyn jury, and I'm glad it's over, it's behind me and that I was able to prove my innocence," Kern told reporters outside the courtroom.

"It's been a long road and it's finally over, thank God," Kern said.

Kern, 26, was charged with aggravated sexual assault and other charges and faced up to 25 years in prison. Morales, 28, and Cruz, 28, each faced up to four years in prison.

The defense challenged heavily tattooed Mineo's credibility, making the case that Mineo was a frequent drug user and a self-confessed former gang member.

Although the incident sparked charges of police brutality and brought to mind the 1997 case of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant who was attacked with a broomstick in a Brooklyn police station, the trial never reached the racially charged pitch of other cases involving New York police.

(Reporting by Basil Katz; editing by Daniel Trotta)

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