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Fargo man found guilty in teen rape case

FARGO - After less than a day of deliberation, a jury found 19-year-old Jermaine Jones guilty of gross sexual imposition, a Class AA felony that prosecutors say carries with it a minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum life sentence without parole.

Jones' aunt, one of several family members present, sat quietly as the verdict was read. One female juror sat with head bowed as the judge read the verdict out. Then Jones' aunt began to sob, and another family member took her into the ladies' room as the courtroom cleared.

Kowanna Taylor, Jones' mother, said that prosecutors had offered him more than one plea deal, but Jones rejected them because he would then be required to say he was guilty.

"All he could do was tell the truth," she said.

Sentencing for Jones will be set later, pending the results of a presentence investigation. His mother said the family plans to appeal. "I'm going to fight for him," she said.

Jones was charged with the forcible rape of a 13-year-old during a party at his home last September. Police went to the south Fargo apartment after receiving a call from a downstairs neighbor who reported hearing someone repeatedly saying "no" and "stop." Police found the girl lying half-naked near a pool of vomit.

Jones' attorney argued that the victim led Jones to believe she was older, and also argued that the sex was consensual. Prosecutors have argued that it was not a defense that Jones did not know the victim was 13.

Jones' half brother, Tremaine Jones, is also charged with gross sexual imposition upon another 13-year-old girl at the party. He is set to face trial next month.

Prosecutor Ryan Younggren said he expects the outcome of Jermaine Jones' case to affect that of his half brother, who also faces a charge of Class AA gross sexual imposition.

In addition, Tremaine Jones, also 19, is facing possessing sexually explicit images of a 16-year-old girl and having sex with her.

"The victim's family is extremely impacted by this," said Younggren. "The mother has said to me, even if he (Jones) gets a life sentence, her daughter has already received one."