Prosecutors on Tuesday announced they will not again try Tony Cercy, a prominent Casper businessman, on an allegation of sexual assault.
The announcement — made in documents that became public Tuesday morning — marks the conclusion to a case that has spanned more than 2 1/2 years. In its filing, the Natrona County District Attorney’s Office states that a Wyoming Supreme Court opinion that jurors could not again convict Cercy on the basis of an oral sexual assault means that a retrial “would not result in a conviction and will most likely result in a hung jury.”
Assistant District Attorney Michael Blonigen, who signed the filing, takes issue in the document with the appellate court’s decision, stating that the definition of cunnilingus used by the court is broad and not drawn from statute. Blonigen wrote that jurors found the woman credible and he renewed the allegation of sexual assault by cunnilingus brought in her testimony.
In a filing later the same day, defense lawyers responded, asking Judge Daniel Forgey to dismiss the case. In the filing, Cercy’s lawyers state also that jurors found Cercy not guilty of sexual assault by cunnilingus in the first trial he faced. Denver lawyers Jeff Pagliuca and Pamela Mackey, along with local lawyer Ian Sandefer, also disputed the prosecutor’s characterization of the appellate court’s decision and called his descriptions of jurors’ comments improper.
“A review of the proceedings in this matter reflects that Mr. Cercy and his lawyers have disagreed with the prosecution with regard to virtually every fact and legal issue in this case — the facts alleged in the Notice and Motion to Dismiss are no different,” wrote the defense team. “Mr. Cercy agrees with the prosecution on one important fact: justice in this case is a dismissal of the action, with prejudice.”
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The case against Cercy, 57, dates to July 2017, when a teenage woman told sheriff’s investigators that Cercy had assaulted her while she was unconscious on a couch at his Alcova lake house. Prosecutors soon charged Cercy, who oversaw an oilfield service company and invested heavily in downtown Casper, with three counts of sexual assault. He pleaded not guilty.
When Cercy first went to trial, in February 2018, a jury found him not guilty of two charges. On the final charge, third-degree sexual assault, jurors deadlocked and Forgey declared a mistrial on that count.
Blonigen, who then served as district attorney, again charged Cercy with the remaining felony. A Hot Springs County jury in November of the same year convicted Cercy of the sole remaining count against him. Forgey immediately ordered Cercy into the sheriff’s custody and in early 2019 ordered Cercy to serve six to eight years in prison.
That conviction, and with it the prison time, was reversed on an appeal late last year. In its written decision, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that jurors at the second trial were not properly instructed on law governing the crime.
The reversal did not mean Cercy walked free right away. He remained held in prison while the state Supreme Court delivered its decision to Natrona County District Court, where Cercy was tried. Then, a judge had to set a bond requirement, which Cercy posted on New Year’s Eve, after about 13 months of imprisonment.
Blonigen, who after Cercy’s conviction retired as district attorney before returning to the office as an assistant district attorney, told Forgey last month that prosecutors would announce their decision by Monday.
Although the state’s filing is dated as received by the clerk’s office on Friday, deputy clerks told the Star-Tribune shortly before 5 p.m. Friday and twice on Tuesday morning that the decision had not yet been filed. Clerk of District Court Anne Volin said by phone Tuesday that her staff provided incorrect information because not all staffers knew the document existed.