A Criminal Court jury on Friday afternoon cleared a former Chattanooga bartender of a charge of rape.
The jury in the courtroom of Judge Barry Steelman ruled William Michael Butler, 25, innocent at the close of the three-day trial.
Bulter took the witness stand, saying that the alleged victim had initiated the sex after he got up to look for his cell phone in the Dec. 3, 2010, incident. He said it happened after he went into the spare bedroom of his girlfriend's house, where the alleged victim was sleeping.
He said he lied to police by denying that he had sex with the young woman because he did not want his then-girlfriend to find out.
Butler, who now works as a bartender in Knoxville, said the alleged victim was a friend of his girl friend of three years. He told the jury he was not fond of the woman and he did not like the way his girlfriend acted when she was around. He said he often "butted heads" with the alleged victim.
He said that night the woman was staying at their residence on Old Dallas Road, rather than drive home after having some drinks. He said he carried the girl from a couch in the living room to the spare bedroom, then joined his then-girlfriend in their master bedroom.
Butler told the jury that when he went into the spare bedroom the woman said something and reached out to him. He said he got closer to hear what she was saying and she grabbed him by the arm. He said she put one of his hands on her breast and then grabbed his private area.
He said he got in bed with her, then he got spooked when he heard a noise because his then-girlfriend was still awake. He said he checked it out, then got back in bed with the visitor. After that he said he went back to the master bedroom and watched TV with his then-girlfriend.
He said he was later awakened by his then-girlfriend "freaking out," saying that the other woman was charging that he had raped her.
The alleged victim said Butler came into her room while she was asleep, pulled her to the side of the bed, and started to rape her. She said she was very groggy at this time from a combination of alcohol, sleep, and previously getting sick. She said Butler heard a sound and left, and that she then curled up under the blanket, confused at what had happened. Shortly after, she said Butler came back and raped her again.
The victim said after this she was terrified and she fled the house. She left behind everything but her purse and her phone, running barefoot to her car. Not long after, she was pulled over by a police officer for having a tail light out. She immediately told the officer that she had been raped, and she went with him to the police station so that he could file a report.
A rape kit was also collected, and DNA found on Butler matched the DNA of the victim.
Butler was represented by attorney Dan Ripper.