Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo reported the conviction of a Brooklyn man who maintained a sexual relationship with a teenager and then raped her when she tried to end their association.
A jury found Hiram Celestine, M/38, of Brooklyn, NY, guilty on Thursday of five counts of 2nd degree Sexual Assault, Resisting Arrest, Witness Tampering, Attempted Sexual Assault, Criminal Sexual Contact and Harassment after approximately 12 hours of deliberation.
Assistant Prosecutor Lauren Wojcik presented evidence during the trial that described a nearly two years sexual relationship carried out in motel rooms and public parks in Monroe, Woodlynne and Pennsauken between Celestine, who was 34 at the time, and a female under the age of 16. The victim was beneath the age of legal consent at the time the relationship began in August 2010. The teenager testified that after she turned 16 she ended the relationship, but agreed to meet Celestine in person one last time, believing he just wanted to say good bye. The jury found that during the September 2012 meeting Celestine tried to initiate a sexual encounter and when the girl resisted, he raped her.
It was revealed at trial that police became involved in the case after seeing the victim with the defendant on Sept. 20, 2012 and noticing that she was visibly distressed. Celestine struggled with officers when they tried to take him into custody. Wojcik presented as evidence letters Celestine wrote the victim from jail, one of which asked the victim to drop the charges against him.
Celestine is scheduled to be sentenced October 24, 2014 by Superior Court Judge John T. Kelley. Celestine faces a maximum 20 year term of incarceration on each of the 2nd degree Sexual Assault offenses and will be placed on the state’s Megan’s Law list of sex offenders upon his release from prison.