GREENVILLE — A Greenville man accused of raping three girls was found not guilty in Darke County Common Pleas Court Thursday.
After a trial extending over the course of three days, a jury of seven women and five men took approximately two hours to decide that Derek Peffly was not guilty on three counts of rape and three counts of gross sexual imposition.
Peffly, 34, was accused of raping his girlfriend’s three underage daughters from a period spanning July 1, 2013 to December 19, 2014. He has been incarcerated in the Darke County Jail since August 2015.
During the trial, the prosecution called seven witnesses to testify, while the defense called only two. Darke County Common Pleas Court Judge Jonathan Hein presided.
Upon hearing the verdict, Peffly showed little outward emotion. He thanked his attorney, Patrick Mulligan, then hugged his father and sister.
Peffly’s sister, Sandy Ashley, told The Daily Advocate she was, “very happy” and “satisfied” with the verdict.
“It’s been a long year,” she said.
Mulligan said, “I’ve done trials all over. I’m always impressed with how serious the juries are when they analyze a case. We can only thank them for their time. It is the greatest system in the world and I know that a lot of people knock the jury system, but it is as good as anywhere in the world.”
Darke County Assistant Prosecutor Deborah Quigley said, “The jury returned a verdict based [on] what they felt on the testimony and evidence that was presented.”
The defense had opened the third day of the trial with Peffly taking the stand on his own behalf. He described his relationship to his girlfriend and her daughters and firmly denied engaging in sexual conduct with the three girls, repeatedly saying “Never” when asked by Mulligan if he had committed the alleged acts.
The defense rested its case following Peffly’s testimony.
The prosecution, headed by Quigley, recalled as a rebuttal witness the mother of the three girls. She had previously testified on the first day of the trial.
She was called upon to further describe details regarding the deterioration of her relationship to Peffly and to counter the testimony of her brother, defense witness Daniel Adams, who had contradicted some of her testimony as it regarded her actions following the disclosure of the alleged abuse.
In his closing statement on behalf of his client, Mulligan questioned the prosecution’s evidence and asked the jury, “Ask yourself the question: Would you bet a single paycheck on this evidence? Because if the answer is ‘No’ you haven’t even come close to ‘beyond reasonable doubt.’ I wouldn’t bet a dollar on this evidence.”
Mulligan called the testimony of the three girls “contaminated” due to multiple retellings to various people.
“The number of times that these children were interviewed or spoken to by unprofessional people before they got to Dr. Roediger is truly amazing,” he said. “From an investigative standpoint, this case was handled horribly.”
In her statements to the jury, Quigley said, “The children took the stand to talk to you about very embarrassing, adult topics, and they did so the best they could.”
“The state believes there’s only one decision you can make, and that is, that the defendant is guilty of these offenses. There’s no other explanation for the evidence that you have received,” she concluded.
Peffly was returned to the Darke County Jail but was expected to be quickly released from custody.