AYER -- An 80-year-old controversial landlord, who has come under fire for his boarding homes in Ayer and Littleton that provide housing for recovering addicts and sex offenders, was cleared of allegations that he grabbed a female tenant, spit on her and flashed his private parts.

After a one-day trial on Tuesday, an Ayer District Court jury found Hugh Ernisse, of 128 Washington Ave., not guilty of assault and battery, intimidation of a witness, open and gross lewdness and interfering with police.

Prosecutors had alleged that on Feb. 23, 2012, Ayer police received a report from a woman who said she got into an argument with Ernisse after she accused him of entering her room and stealing items. Ernisse, who was wearing a robe, was accused of grabbing the woman, spitting on her and then flashing her.

Ernisse told police the woman made up the story because she hadn't paid her rent.

This is one of several cases Ernisse has pending in Ayer District Court.

For more on this story, see Friday's Public Spirit.


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