Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hudson man acquitted of rape, kidnapping charges

Eric Richards, 42, left, shakes hands with his mother’s fiance, Bill Thomaston, after Richards was acquitted by a jury on charges of sexual battery, aggravated battery and kidnapping.


Eric Richards, 42, left, shakes hands with his mother’s fiance, Bill Thomaston, after Richards was acquitted by a jury on charges of sexual battery, aggravated battery and kidnapping.

NEW PORT RICHEY — A jury of two women and four men deliberated for an hour Thursday before acquitting Eric Richards of Hudson of three counts of sexual battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery and kidnapping.

The jurors didn't know he'd previously been accused of a similar crime.

The trial lasted four days and much of the state's case relied on the testimony of the victim, an admitted prostitute and drug addict. The woman, who is not being named due to the nature of the allegations, told of a night in November of 2011 when Richards picked her up and took her to his home. He tied her up, raped and beat her, she testified. She ran nude to a nearby house after he fell asleep.

Richards, 42, took the stand in his defense. After the verdict, he said that decision may have tipped the scales in his favor.

"I believe that you can't win unless you go out there," he said. "You only win if you stand up for yourself."

The decision, he said, was a culmination of what he knew all along. He said he cooperated with authorities the whole time and he knew the case against him was weak.

One female juror in the trial said there simply wasn't enough evidence to convict Richards and put him away for the rest of his life.

"In my heart, did he do something to that girl? Absolutely," said the woman, who declined to give her full name. "To watch him walk out of there makes me sick to my stomach."

No DNA evidence was found linking Richards to the crime, and his attorney said the relationship between the two was a friendly one.

Richards was previously arrested on charges of battery in December of 2008. According to an arrest report, two Pasco sheriff's deputies in an unmarked car witnessed Richards and a woman arguing. He pushed her, the report said, and punched her in the face. She fell to the ground.

After his arrest, the report said, Richards told police the woman was walking down U.S. 19, and he picked her up. He said he punched her because she "continuously insulted him during the argument."

He was appointed a public defender and the case went to trial. A jury found him not guilty on Sept. 22, 2009.

"Justice was served," his mother, Eunice Tatum said after Thursday's verdict. "He has been exonerated."

Hudson man acquitted of rape, kidnapping charges 06/27/13 [Last modified: Thursday, June 27, 2013 8:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas licensing board asks Sen. Jack Latvala for $500,000 loan

    Local Government

    The troubled Pinellas County agency that regulates contractors wants Sen. Jack Latvala to help it get a $500,000 lifeline from the state to stay afloat.

    State Sen . Jack Latvala, R- Clearwater, is being asked to help the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board get $500,000 from the state so it can stay open beyond February.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. FHP: 55-year-old pedestrian struck, killed by car in Largo


    LARGO — A 55-year-old St. Petersburg man died late Saturday after he walked into the path of a car on Ulmerton Road, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  3. Study offers warning for Florida strawberry farmers from global warming


    LAKELAND — Florida strawberry growers already have experienced a dress rehearsal for the impacts of climate change during the past two seasons.

     Carl Grooms shows off some of his strawberries at Fancy Farms near Plant City Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015.  Grooms, President of Fancy Farms. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times]
  4. Two Interstate 275 tractor-trailer crashes cause delays in Tampa


    TAMPA — Two tractor-trailers driving in opposite directions on Interstate 275 crashed Sunday morning within a mile of each other, causing lane closures on both sides.

    Two tractor-trailers going opposite directions on Interstate 275 in Tampa crashed Sunday morning, closing lanes on each side, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  5. Read Anthony Scaramucci's old tweets. You'll understand why he deleted them


    New White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci hasn't always shared the political views of the administration he now serves.

    Anthony Scaramucci, incoming White House communications director, takes questions as he speaks in the briefing room at the White House on Friday. [ Washington Post photo by by Jabin Botsford]