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Sex Abuse Suspect Leaps To Death From GWB

6-26-2010 New Jersey:

HACKENSACK, N.J. (WPIX) - A New Jersey man facing up to a 30-year prison sentence on charges that he sexually assaulted a 9-year-old girl jumped to his death Thursday from the George Washington Bridge.

Stephen Gucciardo, 42, of Palisades Park, had taken the witness stand on Wednesday in his own trial in state Superior Court and was present when the alleged victim testified he sexually assaulted her four years ago.

Gucciardo, who was free on $125,000 bail had reportedly never missed a day of court since he was arrested. Officials said they grew suspicious when he failed to show up Thursday morning, but decided to resume the trial in his absence.

Gucciardo's attorney was later informed that his client had committed suicide. The judge then reportedly excused the jurors and told them the case had been resolved, but did not disclose how.

Port Authorities officials say Gucciardo jumped from the bridge around 8:50 a.m. and landed in a parking lot at the base of the bridge.

Gucciardo was arrested in 2006 and charged with sexually assaulting a child who was 6 at the time. According to prosecutors, Gucciardo was caught in bed with the girl during the time of his arrest.

The young victim claims Gucciardo touched her inappropriately on three separate occasions.

If convicted, Gucciardo would have faced up to 30 years behind bars. In addition, he would have been placed on lifelong parole and would have been forced to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law. ..Source.. by STEPHANIE BARISH

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