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Former jail guard acquitted of rape in Pasco

NEW PORT RICHEY — A former Hernando detention officer was found not guilty Wednesday of raping a woman in 2008.

"I'm just happy the truth came out," Gregory C. Heiser, 45, said moments after the verdict. "I can get my career back."

Heiser was arrested in 2009 in Pasco County on a sexual battery charge involving a woman who was 39 at the time. The woman told authorities Heiser invited her to his home and sexually assaulted her.

The trial began Monday. If convicted, Heiser faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The jury deliberated for four hours Wednesday before coming back with a not guilty verdict.

"I lost my home. I lost my son. I lost my job," Heiser said of his life since being arrested. But he said all of that is in the past.

"My freedom is the most important thing," he said.

In 2009, he was also accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl and charged with two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. The girl told Pasco deputies she had sex twice with Heiser, of Hudson. Authorities at the time said Heiser told the teenager's mother he was in love with the girl. Those charges were dropped, according to court records.

Heiser was working at the Hernando County Jail at the time of his arrest. He worked as a corrections officer for 13 years, starting in 1996 through 1999 at the Hernando County Jail, according to his personnel file. He also worked for the state Department of Corrections and the Sumter and Pasco jails.

He said he hopes to get a job in law enforcement again.

Former jail guard acquitted of rape in Pasco 10/12/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 6:24pm]
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