"Zoo Man" found guilty in rape re-trial in Chattanooga

"Zoo Man" found guilty in rape re-trial in Chattanooga

Thomas Huskey on the stand in Chattanooga Thomas Huskey on the stand in Chattanooga

April 23, 2004

CHATTANOOGA (WATE and AP) -- A jury in Chattanooga found Thomas "Zoo Man" Huskey guilty Friday on all four counts against him in his rape re-trial. Those include three counts of aggravated rape and one count of especially aggravated kidnapping.

Despite taking the stand for the first time in one of his trials, Huskey couldn't convince a jury of his innocence.

"I did not do it," Huskey testified. "Whether someone else did, that's...but I did not in any shape, form or fashion harm (her.)" He also adamantly denied any act of rape, or interacting with prostitutes. And he denied that he knew the woman in this case.

He was on trial in Chattanooga. It's in the second trial for Huskey on a former prostitute's accusations of rape and kidnapping.

Huskey was convicted in a 1996 trial of sexually assaulting her and three others in a string of attacks on prostitutes in the early 1990s in Knoxville.

But an appellate court ruled this case should have been tried separately. [ conviction overturned ]

According to the Associated Press, the woman held to her account during four hours of often-emotional testimony Wednesday, saying Huskey took her to a barn at the Knoxville Zoo in 1991, where he beat, raped and choked her.

The woman, who's now 37, said Huskey fled when he saw car lights approaching.

The woman told 6 News Friday that this has been a very long and exhausting trial. She said she's ready to seek closure and justice.

The Associated Press says prostitutes called Huskey "Zoo Man," saying he often took them to the zoo elephant barn to have sex with them.

Judge Richard Baumgartner said in March there was so much publicity on the fourth rape case, he doubted a fair trial could be conducted in Knoxville. [ Chattanooga chosen ]

Huskey was convicted of raping three women in the early 1990's and is serving a 44-year prison term.

6 News Reporter Tearsa Smith contributed to this report. Some portions of this report, Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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