ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7)-- A jury found a Roanoke attorney not guilty of a misdemeanor assault and battery charge Tuesday afternoon in Roanoke circuit court.
The incident was said to occur at the Gold and Silver Club on Franklin Road with an exotic dancer. Charles John - or CJ - Covati was the defendant. He helped manage the business last February.
While the charge was not sexual assault, the alleged assault was sexual in nature. The alleged victim, who we are choosing not to identify, listed three different acts that happened to her by Covati during a training dance.
February 18, 2019 was one of the first days that the woman worked at the club. According to testimony, women at the club are typically trained by female managers, but the alleged victim claimed she was alone in the VIP lounge with Covati.
"It's usually much shorter," Allyson Powell, another manager said while describing the training dance to the jury. Since this was a misdemeanor charge, there were only seven members of the jury.
According to the three witnesses the defense called to testify, all former or current employees of the club, there is a camera in the VIP lounge.
The live feed of the training dance was being watched by Kenneth Yopp Jr. who still works at the club. When asked if Covati touched the woman in an inappropriate manner, Yopp answered, "no." The video of the training dance was also recorded, but it was not shown as evidence as the video deleted on the club's system after 21 days.
"When there's only one dance going on, you blow up the camera, so you can see everything," Yopp testified.
Other witnesses testified that the woman did not have any physical markings that would indicate the assault, and that she went back to work, without saying anything happened.
"She was shocked, she didn't know what to do, she testified, she didn't call out," said Josh Elrod, the prosecutor in the case, in his closing statement.
According to other testimony from Roanoke Police officers, the woman did not report an assault until the evening of March 2, 2019. The woman was also fired from the nightclub earlier in the day of March 2. There was no testimony given as to why her employment was terminated. After the woman reported the assault, warrants were not served immediately, as the woman did not know CJ's last name.
However, Covati's attorney argued that business cards with his full name were available at multiple places in the club.
The jury took 14 minutes to deliberate the case before returning with a "not guilty" verdict.
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