Sexual assault charges against a 30-year-old Lincoln man standing trial this week were dismissed after his accuser failed to show up to testify.

Joshua Ruff had faced the possibility of up to 21 years in prison if convicted of the felony and misdemeanor charges.

"My client has maintained his innocence the entire time," Ruff's attorney, Nick Glasz, said after court Tuesday morning. "It was a tough case for the state."

Lincoln police arrested Ruff on May 3 after a 19-year-old woman, who knows him, reported he tried to sexually assault her.

Investigators said he messaged her on a social media app the day before and asked her if she wanted to hang out.

They ate at a yogurt shop, then went to his apartment, where they watched TV, investigators said in an affidavit for his arrest.

That's when he grabbed the woman's leg, tried kissing her and exposed himself, she told investigators.

She said Ruff continued making sexual advances after she told him they were just friends, the affidavit said.

Eventually, she talked Ruff into taking her home, where she called police, the affidavit said.

The woman recorded audio of part of the encounter, where she could be heard telling Ruff to stop multiple times and to get off of her, investigators said.

But Ruff told investigators he never tried to have sex with the woman and denied any physical contact.

Initially charged with attempted first-degree sexual assault, Ruff entered this week's trial facing an additional charge of third-degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor.

A jury was impaneled Monday morning, but when Ruff's accuser did not show up to the courthouse to testify after lunch, Lancaster County District Judge Robert Otte granted an extended recess.

Then, after she had still not shown up to testify, Otte continued the trial until Tuesday morning.

Once she didn't appear Tuesday, prosecutors asked Otte to dismiss the case at the state's cost.

Ruff cannot be tried again in this case.

Lancaster County Attorney Pat Condon didn't return a request for comment on the decision.

Ruff had been detained at the Lancaster County jail since his arrest. Ruff was taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs, but later Tuesday he was released from jail.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.



Riley Johnson reports on local government in Lincoln.

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