A jury acquitted a man who had been charged with assault after authorities said an assistant prosecutor, police officer and courtroom bailiff got sick after shaking hands with him.
John Curtis Ridgeway, 42, was seen pulling out a vial of liquid and rubbing his hands with the contents after a December jury trial in which he was found guilty of driving without insurance, authorities said.
The assistant prosecutor, Amanda Swanson, became suspicious and tried to avoid contact when Ridgeway offered his hand for a handshake. Ridgeway insisted on shaking hands with her, the police officer who pulled him over and a bailiff, authorities said.
The three got sick within an hour or so, according to testimony. Symptoms, which lasted about 24 hours, included nausea, headaches, numbness and tingling. Two of the three went to the hospital.
Ridgeway told The Associated Press after he was charged that the substance was olive oil. He testified that he used oil to anoint “corrupt buildings” and that it was meant to rid the buildings of demons.
He was acquitted Friday of assaulting a police officer and two counts of assaulting a public officer. If convicted, he could have faced six years in prison.
Prosecutor Keith Kushion declined to comment. Defense lawyer William Shirley said Ridgeway had not intended to harm anyone.