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Ice skater cleared of sex attack on young girl.

A jury in Wisconsin yesterday found an ice skater from Sheffield not guilty of sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl in her hotel room.

Matthew Fisher, aged 33, was part of the Disney On Ice tour which visited the town of La Crosse last December.

The jury of ten women and two men deliberated for six hours before finding him innocent of first-degree sexual assault of a child and of child enticement.

Fisher was found guilty of trespassing, which carries a maximum penalty of nine months in jail and a $10,000 (pounds 7,000) fine.

Prosecutors claimed the girl was assaulted after Fisher entered her hotel room on December 9.

But the defence said Fisher had been drinking heavily and was only looking for more alcohol when he entered the suite the girl's parents had rented for an employee Christmas party.

Fisher remained in La Crosse County Jail pending his sentencing next Wednesday on the trespassing charge.

Judge Dale Pasell refused defence requests to revoke or reduce Fisher's pounds 7,000 bond.

Assistant District Attorney Julie Nelson told jurors they had all the evidence needed to find Fisher guilty of sexual assault and child enticement.

'This is not a case of mistaken identity. It was clear that Mr Fisher was in that room at that time,' she said. 'This is a case where someone did something he should not have and now he is trying to get out of it.' Dan Ryan, defending, said Fisher was innocent and had suffered greatly because of the case.

'He has lost just about everything a person could lose,' Mr Ryan said. 'In December, he had a job as a professional ice skater, a job many people dream of having. He had a girlfriend. Together they were able to travel to a lot of different places and live a dream life.

'He not only lost his job and lost his girlfriend but Matthew Fisher has spent the last three months waiting to stand trial for a crime he did not commit.'
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 3, 2002
Words:337
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