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Man cleared of raping girlfriend's daughter, but guilty of sex abuse

A Brooklyn ex-con facing his second set of sex charges in four years dodged the more serious charge of raping a child but was convicted Monday of sexual abuse.

An Erie County jury of seven women and five men found Frank Flowers, 51, guilty of first-degree sexual abuse but cleared him of predatory sexual assault against a child.

Prosecutors had accused Flowers of raping the 8-year-old daughter of his girlfriend early on New Year's Day on the living room couch of his second-floor Guilford Street flat as her mother slept in an adjacent bedroom.

Jurors delivered their verdict an hour into their second day of deliberations.

Erie County Judge Kenneth F. Case scheduled sentencing for Sept. 16. Flowers faces a seven-year prison sentence.

The predatory sexual assault charge carried a minimum prison sentence of 10 to 25 years and a maximum life term. Getting cleared of that charge was the second time Flowers avoided being convicted on a rape charge. In 2007, a jury found Flowers not guilty of a knifepoint rape attempt.

Flowers served 10 years in state prison for his 1987 manslaughter conviction in Brooklyn. He also served 16 months in prison for a 1982 drug conviction.

Joseph A. Agro, Flowers' defense lawyer, said Monday's decision should not have come as a surprise. The DNA evidence against Flowers was weak, and there was no proof of sexual intercourse with the child, he said. "The jury thought it through, thankfully," he said.

During the weeklong trial, prosecutor Lynette M. Reda had stressed DNA evidence that she said linked Flowers to the attack. Also, a bruise found during a hospital examination after the attack was a clear sign of rape, Reda said.

Last week, Buffalo Police Officer Aaron Borczynski testified about a remark Flowers made as police officers escorted him to an ambulance shortly after the girl's mother stabbed him in the leg following the sex abuse.

"Looks like I'm not going to get away with this," Flowers said, according to Borczynski.

During the trial, the girl identified Flowers as the man who awakened her as she was sleeping on his living room couch at about 3 a.m. Jan. 1.

The girl's mother told the jury she was in Flowers bedroom with the door open when she was awakened by Flowers saying, in the adjoining living room, "Wait till you see what I'm going to do to you the next time."

The mother testified she saw Flowers, naked from the waist down, on the living room couch talking to her daughter.

The mother told the jury she "went nuts" and struggled with Flowers as he prevented her from calling 911. She said she stabbed him in the leg and told her daughter to go downstairs to ask the landlady to call 911.

Agro accused her of lying, questioned the conclusiveness of DNA evidence and noted nurses at Women and Children's Hospital who examined the girl found only a small bruise on her.

Flowers did not testify.

The defendant, who has been in jail since Jan. 7, will continue to be held.

email: plakamp@buffnews.com and mgryta@buffnews.com

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