A Laramie County jury on Thursday acquitted a Cheyenne man accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl.

The jury in Rick Bennefield's trial began deliberating around 10 a.m. yesterday (Wednesday), but the jury foreman was removed this (Thursday) morning after he posted comments about the trial on social media.

An alternate was called back and, despite Bennefield's attorney's repeated motions for District Court Judge Catherine Rogers to declare a mistrial, the jury started their deliberations over again.

"I'm going to deny the defense's motion for a mistrial," said Rogers. "I have confidence that this jury can do the right thing."

After redeliberating, the jury found Bennefield not guilty of second-degree and third-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

Bennefield was alleged to have had sex with a 13-year-old between Oct. 1, 2017 and Nov. 21, 2017, when he was between 34 and 35 years old. He was also accused of touching her vagina with his penis.

Had Bennefield been found guilty, he would have faced up to 35 years in prison.​

District Attorney Jeremiah Sandburg declined to comment on the verdict.

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