Darren Sanders, the Ravens head of security, was acquitted Thursday on charges that he groped a stadium worker and tried to force sexual contact as she guided him to his car after a game last December.
A jury of five women and seven men deliberated just over an hour before reaching the verdict. After it was read, Sanders was patted on the back by supporters, while his accuser left the courtroom quietly, surrounded by her own group of supporters.
Sanders, 49, who was charged with fourth-degree sexual contact and second-degree assault, denied the allegations when he took the stand this week. His accuser had testified that Sanders groped her and tried to force her to touch his genitals as she was showing him out of the stadium following the Ravens' win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 14.
"It is a shame such a decent man had to be dragged through this. It has been very difficult for him and his family," Sanders' attorney, Warren Alperstein, said after the verdict. "He is thrilled that the jury saw the truth."
Sanders, through his attorney, declined to comment.
Sanders has been on paid leave since Dec. 30, in accordance with the NFL's personal-conduct policy. The league said in a statement Thursday that it will "promptly review the matter under the personal-conduct policy, including the full trial record," and that Sanders will remain on paid leave until that process is completed.
Kevin Byrne, the Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations, said: "We're delighted with the outcome, and we're delighted for Darren and his family."
Sanders testified that he had been smoking cigars and had a drink with several others in owner Steve Bisciotti's private suite after the game and left shortly before 7 p.m. He said he was on his way out of the stadium to meet his then-girlfriend, Bisciotti's assistant Pam Lund, who was waiting in her car in the parking lot. They were planning to take a train to New York to celebrate her birthday.
Sanders said he talked to Lund on his cellphone on his way out, asking for directions, when his accuser offered to walk him to the elevators near his car.
The Baltimore Sun generally does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.
Sanders and his accuser offered vastly different accounts of what took place when they encountered each other.
Sanders testified that the woman told him, "You're looking mighty fine in your suit as usual." He said he was polite and thanked her, and they started walking to the elevator near his car.
His accuser, however, said Sanders "went from a friendly guy trying to get to an elevator to, like, creepy."
She testified that Sanders grabbed her buttocks several times, and she rebuffed him. After the second time, the woman said Sanders asked her, "Do you know what I do around here? I do what I want."
She said when they reached the elevator and she went to the window to point out where Sanders' car would be, he pressed up against her and tried to force her to touch his penis.
The incident was seen through the window by her fellow employee, who was at ground level, said Assistant State's Attorney Gavin Patashnick.
Sanders denied groping the woman. He testified that when they arrived at the elevators, he thanked her, and she asked him, "That's it?"
He said she then asked for his number. He said he did not want to be rude and told her instead he would return with the team at the next home game.
Patashnick said during closing arguments that Sanders, a longtime Ravens employee with a close relationship with Bisciotti, used his influence over the woman, a stadium janitor who would have difficulty coming forward against a powerful organization.
"He used his power inappropriately," Patashnick said.
Patashnick declined to comment after the verdict was returned.
As the accuser left the courtroom, another woman walking alongside her said she did not want to comment. "Please don't bother her," the woman said.
Her attorney, Steven H. Heisler, expressed disappointment.
"We thought the state proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt," Heisler said.
He said his client is considering a civil lawsuit.
State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said in a statement that she was disappointed by the verdict but complimented the prosecutor on his efforts.
"Sexual assault cases are difficult cases to prove, and while I'm disappointed at the jury's verdict, I am extremely proud of the assistant state's attorney, Gavin Patashnick, who zealously fought for the victim in this case," Mosby said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.