Man facing sexual assault charges back in court after mistrial

A Conewango man facing sexual assault charges will return to court today following a mistrial in August.

Dennis L. Park is charged with first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree criminal sex act for alleged incidents that took place July 11 and July 18 in 2018. Opening statements in Chautauqua County Court are expected to begin around 9:30 a.m.

Chautauqua County Court Judge David Foley declared the mistrial after testimony, describing an oral swab that tested positive for human DNA, was given by a DNA forensic analyst in front of the jury. Foley ruled that certain remarks made by the analyst referencing a rape kit from the July 17 incident that was compiled by a different official, a serologist, were hearsay.

“It’s the difference between this jury finding Park guilty or not finding him guilty,” Foley said in court in August.

Following an extended recess, Foley officially announced the mistrial citing a prejudiced jury because of the comments.

Chautauqua County Public Defender Ned Barone, who is representing Park, made a motion for the mistrial following the comments.

“Whenever you move for a mistrial, generally speaking, you believe some form of prejudice has been created, some form of prejudice has been established against your client that can’t be cured by a more reasonable type of fix for the problem, so to say,” Barone told The Post-Journal at the time.

Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson and Assistant District Attorney Michael Flaherty, whom handled the line of questioning in court, declined to comment on the specifics of the case as it is still a pending matter.

“We’ll continue to move forward towards disposition,” Swanson said previously.

The initial trial lasted four days following a week of jury selection. During the first trial, Flaherty called both alleged victims, numerous officers with the Jamestown Police Department, a nurse and a forensic analyst to the stand to testify.

One victim claimed the 35-year-old Park “rushed” her in a Jamestown laundromat and forced her at knife point to perform oral sex. Another alleged that Park forced her to provide sexual acts behind a city factory near Chandler Street in exchange for safety. Both women stated that Park used a knife to threaten them.

A mistrial was declared before the defense called its first witness.

Park has remained in Chautauqua County Jail.