WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

 

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Accused rapist may not face trial on charges of sexual assault on Newport area woman.

April Loper (top), Thomas Acosta (bottom)

Correction on father of April Loper’s baby below in bold.

A man held on charges that he sexually assaulted his Newport area girlfriend in December of last year, and then drove her, against her will to Redding, CA where she escaped from him may take a step closer to being released Monday morning in Judge Charles Littlehales courtroom. The turn of events in the case stemmed from the death of his accuser, April Loper, who died, along with her father, in a head-on crash east of Eddyville in late October. April’s family says they’ve been told that without April on the stand, Acosta cannot face and challenge his accuser as to his guilt. They said they’ve been told by the District Attorney’s office that statements made to family and friends would amount to hearsay evidence, and therefore not admissible. And without admissible evidence the DA has no case.

Thomas Acosta’s trial was set to start some weeks ago with him facing charges of sodomy, sexual assault, rape, sexual abuse, coercion, strangulation, menacing and unlawful use of a weapon. April told authorities that it was in mid-December of last year that Acosta violently sexually assaulted her at her shop at Aquarium Village. The morning after, April said he let her go but told her he’d hurt her and her family if she said anything about it. However, April did have an opportunity to later tell her friends about her ordeal but told them to keep it to themselves, that she feared for her life and the lives of others. Family members say April was last seen last Christmas Eve getting into Acosta’s van as a “gesture of protecting her family.”

Loper’s family said when the two didn’t return for Christmas, they suspected foul play and reported to police that April was missing and in grave danger. April’s family claims Acosta drove Loper to Redding, CA, where April told authorities that she eventually escaped and went to Redding Police to report what happened. Armed with a photo from Newport Police, Redding Police located Acosta riding a bicycle along a busy thoroughfare. He was arrested and held for Newport Police who by then had received word of the allegations. Newport Police traveled to Redding and picked up Acosta and booked him into the Lincoln County Jail.

Back in Newport Loper confided more about what happened to her. A trial date was set for Acosta. But on October 25th, Loper and her father Daniel Loper, were both killed near Eddyville in a head-on crash on a notoriously bad curve east of town. Loper’s infant son, survived the impact. A previous report that the baby was Acosta’s was inaccurate according to a family member.

Loper’s family is expected to appear in court to give each other moral support and to hope for a miracle that Acosta won’t be set free. Loper’s aunt Kathy Wagner said she wants everyone to remember Acosta’s face and to know what he did to April Loper and to her family. “Memorize his face,” she said, “know who he is. Be careful and be afraid of him.”

Acosta’s hearing is set for 8:30am, in Courtroom 305, Judge Charles Littlehales presiding.

 

 

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