YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A judge in Hackensack today denied a request for a new trial for a city man convicted four months ago of raping a 13-year-old girl after plying her and a 15-year-old with alcohol and drugs.
Superior Court Judge James J. Guida set sentencing for July 19 after rejecting Ivan McKinney’s request. McKinney faces a potential prison term of 25 years to life.
McKinney “vigorously denies the charges, and continues to do so, and plans on pursuing a substantial appeal,” his attorney, Jeffrey B. Steinfeld told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
Jurors deliberated for roughly three hours in Hackensack before returning a series of guilty verdicts against McKinney on Feb. 15.
McKinney faced 14 separate counts, including four of causing harm to underage children. Other charges included kidnapping the 13-year old by “removing her a substantial distance without permission of a parent” and multiple counts of raping each girl when they were incapacitated, as well as impairing the morals of a minor.
Jurors convicted him of all of the counts except for aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault of the 15-year-old.
“We are pleased with the verdict and the time and attention a jury of our peers gave this most important and serious case involving sexual abuse of two young girls,” Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor David Calviello said at the time. “This case is an example of our system at work.”
Steinfeld cited during closing arguments what he said were “inconsistencies” in the testimony of the two victims, who were 13 and 15 at the time of the alleged February 2011 incidents.
However, Calviello countered with a text message that McKinney sent to an acquaintance the night of Feb. 19, when the girls allege that he sexually assaulted them.
“They are over here kissing each other. I got one, should I go for two?” the message to Frank Court said. “Yo, that Nuvo got ‘em buggin’.
“They wasn’t drunk, they was horny.”
Nuvo is a sparkling vodka drink that is 15% alcohol.
McKinney’s attorney said the girls reached out to him because “they wanted to hang out, seeking to smoke weed and drink alcohol.”
In addition to the lack of blood and urine tests of the victims that he said would have proved whether they were drugged, Steinfeld said holes in the case included the lack of empty 4-Loco bottles recovered from the crime scene, the illogical sequence of events as testified to by the victims, and their social behavior that included “running away a lot,” as well as being out at 3 a.m.
In fact, both the defense attorney and the prosecutor agreed that Clifton Police didn’t respond immediately to a call from the older girl’s mother because “they were familiar with the two and knew their habits.”
According to Calviello, the girls were in the in the Dunkin’ Donuts at 3 a.m. on Valentine’s Day two years ago to charge a cellphone.
McKinney was in the restaurant when they arrived but left, then came back after a few minutes, sat near them, and struck up a conversation — indicating that he had been watching them from outside the restaurant, the prosecutor said.
McKinney then took them back to his room at a boarding house in Hackensack and gave them alcohol and drugs before bringing them back to Clifton around 6 a.m., he said.
McKinney arranged to meet the two again on Feb. 19 near the Clifton Shop-Rite and bring them to the rooming house once again, authorities alleged.
The older girl testified that she opened her eyes while incapacitated by the drugs, alcohol or both and saw McKinney on top of her friend with his pants open.
The younger girl’s eyes were closed and she didn’t appear to know what was happening, she said.
The older girl also testified that at the same time her own pants were around her ankles and her underwear around her knees.
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter