MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A jury has found Memphis businessman Mark Giannini not guilty of aggravated rape.
Giannini was charged with raping a woman who came to his home in Eads for a job interview in 2014.
While deliberating, the jury, made up of mostly women, asked the judge, “What is the legal definition of consent?”
At one point, they also said they could not reach a unanimous decision on the charge of aggravated rape.
After more than six hours of deliberation, they finally reached a verdict.
Giannini’s accuser left court screaming and crying.
The 25-year-old woman told police she was drugged and raped poolside at Giannini’s home.
“I started praying out loud for God to make it stop,” she said on the stand.
At the hospital afterward, nurses said she appeared emotionally and physically injured.
Giannini did not testify.
His high-profile defense team chipped away at the woman’s story, but it was during closing arguments Thursday that attorney Steve Farese made national headlines with a remark about women.
“People can be very good at lying. Women can be especially good at it, because they are the weaker sex,” he said to the jury.
We asked Farese about what he said.
“I’m not giving you legs to a made up story,” he responded.
What he did say is defense lawyers and their multi-millionaire client are pleased with the outcome of this week-long, intense trial.
“We knew we had a difficult hill to climb. We knew he had been convicted by public opinion. We were very, very concerned, and now we are very, very pleased,” said Farese.
He owned an information technology firm at the time of the attack.
He was also on the board for the Boys and Girls Club, the Memphis Botanic Garden and the Memphis Chamber of Commerce.
When arrested he was found with his passport, a small contact case with Viagra and a large sum of cash according to police.
Giannini is facing charges for two other rapes dating back to 2002. His attorneys said they are preparing and may try to negotiate with prosecutors.
They said they will also look at getting him bond.
District Attorney Gen. Amy Weirich released the following statement after the verdict:
“While we respect the jury’s verdict, we are deeply disappointed in the outcome. The victim in this case exhibited great strength and courage. We are saddened for her and hope that this result does not discourage other victims from speaking up.”