By Carla St. Louis
This afternoon jurors in Hackensack, New Jersey acquitted VH1′s “Love & Hip Hop” personality, Mendeecees Harris of sexually assaulting his teenage step-daughter by coercing her with money and other manipulation when she was 15 years old.
After the trial, Harris returned to the Bergen County Jail, where federal marshals held him on a detainer.
Initially he was free on bail pending the start of the trial, but later surrendered last week after being named in a federal indictment out of Rochester, N.Y. that accused him and two other men with trafficking $2.5 million worth of heroin and cocaine.
Despite the child molestation accusations, fellow “Love & Hip Hop” star and mother of his newborn child, Yandy Smith was among those in the courtroom who rejoiced as the verdicts to the eight individual charges were read just before 4 p.m.
“I love you!” one supporter shouted to the jurors, who returned the verdicts after a few hours of deliberations.
Smith posted the following message on her Instagram account in support of Harris:
“No matter how much they tried to rip you of your pride, defame your name, degrade you…you kept your faith in God and told me to keep my head up. So I did,” Smith posted a short time later on Instagram. “Not Guilty!”
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Demetra Maurice, in turn, said, “I respect the jury’s decision and the time and attention they gave this case.”
According to Cliffview Pilot, the trial was an emotional ordeal for both parties.
The victim’s grandmother and aunt left as the verdicts were being read. “It’s in God hands,” the grandmother, who is a pastor, told Cliffview Pilot. “The truth will come out.”
She was among those who remained, despite the weather, as the day wore on. She prayed at times, as did Smith, who wept as she and several people who accompanied her throughout the trial huddled together.
Arrangements are expected to be made to extradite him to New York early next week.
Harris–who’s been characterized by unconfirmed media outlets as a former police informant–already has a drug conviction on his record that led to federal prison time and probation following a 2001 arrest.