Traverse City Record-Eagle

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February 24, 2014

Jury acquits Kalkaska man

KALKASKA — A Kalkaska man's trial on charges he had sexual contact with a girl under the age of 13 ended with his acquittal.

Forty-sixth Circuit Court jurors on Friday found Thomas Fay Ball, 56, not guilty of two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Ball's attorney John Devine, of Mount Pleasant, said he wasn't surprised by the trial's outcome.

"I didn't think there were enough or any facts to substantiate," he said. "Our defense was that this was a made-up accusation that had no proof whatsoever to support it."

Kalkaska County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Michael Huber, who handled the case, couldn't be reached for comment.

Ball stood accused of having sexual contact with a girl, then 10, in 2010. Kalkaska County authorities issued a warrant against Ball on criminal sexual conduct charges in February 2013, but he wasn't arrested until July when U.S. Marshals took him into custody at a natural gas drilling site in Pennsylvania.

Ball originally faced a first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge, but that changed in court hearings held before the trial began last week.

Devine said Ball had a live-in relationship with the girl's grandmother that soured in recent years. He believes the changing accusations and charges against Ball and witness testimony — from both the defense and the prosecution — impacted the jury's final decision.

"He felt vindicated, of course," Devine said.

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