Statutory rape charge dropped against Mark Giannini

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A judge dismissed the case against a prominent Memphis businessman accused of raping a 17-year-old he met on a "sugar daddy" website.

Mark Giannini was charged with statutory rape; however, the judge threw out the case because the teen lied about her age.

Giannini bonded out of jail Friday after a judge said there was not enough evidence to show that Giannini knew the girl was underage.

Giannini's attorney Steve Farese said the teen his client is accused of raping listed her age as 20 on the website, and listed her age as 24 on Facebook.

Farese said the girl testified that she never told Giannini her real age, which is 17.

The case came down to what could and could not be proven in court.

"They didn't have enough evidence to proceed to trial," Farese said. "They had enough evidence to arrest him, put him in jail for over a month. But then when the culmination came there was nothing there."

Judge Mark Ward said the state failed to prove Giannini knew the girl was underage.

"That seems to be self-evident that we don't go around to places or bars and say 'Hey you want to have a drink but how old are you?' You don't do that if you are a citizen," Farese said.

Giannini, still wearing his ankle monitor, left the courtroom without comment, once again a free man.

Giannini was acquitted in a separate rape case last year and has two other rape cases pending from 2013.

He remains on probation for a drug charge. His next rape trial is expected to begin in November.

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