Auburn Trooper's Hearing On Sexual Assault Charges Delayed

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Jason Willard, 38, of Auburn, has pleaded not guilty to five charges in a case of the alleged sexual assault of an 18-year-old woman. Photo Credit: Rick Sobey

AUBURN, Mass. – A pre-trial hearing for a state trooper from Auburn accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman four years ago has been rescheduled to Thursday, Dec. 13, in Worcester Superior Court.

Jason Willard, 38, of 19 Thayer Ave., was scheduled to appear in court Friday, but his attorney, Michael Erlich, said there was "still outstanding discovery left before a further pre-trial hearing."

Willard pleaded not guilty in September to three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person more than 14 and two counts of open and gross lewdness. 

"Throughout the normal course of any case," Erlich said, "there are hundreds of reasons why a trial will be pushed back, and discovery is one of them." 

Erlich said the alleged incidents were reported in divorce papers filed by Willard’s ex-wife. A relative of his ex-wife was the alleged victim four years ago.

"I'm confident that when this case is complete, he'll  be acquitted," Erlich said.

Willard, a state trooper for the past 10 years, works out of the Sturbridge barracks. He was relieved of duty and suspended without pay in September. The duration of his suspension is indefinite.

State Police Internal Affairs will continue to monitor the criminal proceedings and conduct its own investigation into Willard’s conduct. The alleged incidents occurred while Willard was off-duty. The case was investigated by state police detectives assigned to the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office. The case’s prosecutor is Assistant District Attorney Terry McLaughlin.

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