SNOW HILL – A Fairfax County (Va.) Deputy Sheriff accused in February of raping a 22-year-old woman in an Ocean City hotel room was acquitted last week in Worcester County Circuit Court after a two-day trial during which the victim’s credibility was called into question.
Fairfax County Deputy Sheriff Zachary Dennis Taylor, 32, of Ruther Glen, Va. appeared in Worcester County Circuit Court last week to face second-degree rape, second-degree assault and fourth-degree sex offense charges stemming from an alleged assault on Feb. 24 at a mid-town hotel. The trial began last Wednesday and spilled over into a second day last Thursday as the 12-member jury heard testimony on the case from both the prosecution and the defense.
The case was finally turned over to the jury late last Thursday and the panel deliberated for about 90 minutes before returning with not guilty verdicts across the board for Taylor.
The then 22-year-old victim was characterized by both sides as having an apparent drinking problem and issues arose during the testimony about whether the encounter was consensual. When faced with the charges in February, Taylor at first denied having any sexual contact with the victim but later told police the encounter was consensual. The victim remembered little about the end of the fateful night according to testimony at trial.
According to police reports, the victim was at a local nightclub on Feb. 24 when she became extremely intoxicated. The victim was allegedly escorted from the establishment by Taylor, who was in Ocean City for a bachelor party with other sheriff’s deputies from Fairfax County. The victim told police Taylor assisted her to his hotel room nearby and surveillance tapes presented at trial bear out that part of the story.
What happened inside the hotel room is not entirely certain, however. The victim told police once inside the hotel room, Taylor undressed her and sexually assaulted her, after which he allegedly escorted her out of the room and put her on an elevator alone, according to police reports.
The victim was subsequently found lying on a sofa in the hotel lobby crying hysterically, according to police reports. Hotel employees found the victim on the lobby sofa and called the police. Based on the statement provided by the victim, OCPD detectives obtained a warrant for Taylor’s arrest charging him with second-degree rape. Taylor turned himself in to authorities in Anne Arundel County a few days after the arrest warrant was sworn out on him and he was placed on administrative leave by officials in Fairfax.