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Genoa man acquitted of severe charges

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GENOA, OH (Toledo News Now) -

A Genoa man is trying to get his life back on track after being acquitted of a serious crime.

"As a combat veteran from Iraq and Afghanistan, I've been in some pretty intense situations," said Lt. Joe Bergman, Jr. "This was the most alone I have ever felt in my entire life."

A year ago, Bergman's life was changed forever when he was accused of having sex with a teenage girl in his car at Levis Commons. On May 15, 2013, he was found not guilty.

Now Bergman is trying to clear his name of a crime he says he never committed.

"To have them come back with a not guilty verdict, to see through all the lies and the deceptions that the prosecution tried to dump on them, was so vindicating," he said.

Bergman, a Genoa Schools wrestling coach, was accused of having sex with a minor the night before he left for Ft. Leonard Wood, a military base in Missouri. He was arrested on that base May 17, 2012.

He spent 22 days in a Missouri county jail before being extradited to Wood County.

Bergman admits he was friends with the accuser, and on the night in question he did go to Levis Commons to say goodbye to her, but nothing more.

"I did make a mistake," he said. "I got too close to this young girl. I shouldn't have done that, but my actions were not criminal in any way."

Bergman was acquitted after a 3-day trial, and an hour and a half of jury deliberations. He says the case was mishandled, and tarnished his reputation.

His goal now is to restore his military career and clear his name.

"To be able to enjoy my civil liberties again, and my constitutional, God-given rights, is so – it's just so vindicating," he said. "I feel so free."

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