A man convicted of child sexual abuse may walk free because someone else spent a few minutes on Google. Ali M. Abdi was convicted of aggravated sexual assault for touching and raping his then-9-year-old niece in 2006. But one of Abdi’s jurors went online to research his Somalian culture and religion before the trial was over, and used what he found as “information to interpret facts in evidence,” according to court documents.
That outside research prevented Abdi from having a fair trial, one in which all evidence weighed by jurors is presented in court, the Vermont Supreme Court unanimously ruled recently, in tossing his first conviction. Now Abdi will have a second chance to challenge the charges against him and – if he’s successful – he could go free.
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