It didn't take the jury long to find former WPTV (West Palm Beach) Weather Anchor Rob Lopicola guilty of having sex with a teenage boy.
The Sun Sentinel reports that a Palm Beach County jury convicted him on two out of three sex charges involving a former Boca Raton teenager.
The six jurors returned a split verdict, acquitting Lopicola of a charge of having oral sex with a 15-year-old, but finding him guilty of using text messages to solicit sex from the teen. The jury also convicted him on one count of computer pornography and child exploitation.
Judge Barry Cohen set sentencing for Dec. 6. Lopicola, 43, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison or as little as 34 months. He will remain in custody at Palm Beach County Jail.
He also continues to be charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor, in a separate case involving a 17-year-old victim. A hearing is scheduled for Monday.
Lopicola, who worked at WPTV-Ch. 5 in West Palm Beach until his sudden exit in 2006, testified Thursday he never met his teen accuser and was humiliated by the allegations and media attention on his case.
He said being back before the cameras in these circumstances was "a terrible feeling."
"I'm on trial," said Lopicola, a Wilton Manors resident at the time of his July 2012 arrest. "My entire future is on the line right now."
He denied meeting his accuser for oral sex in October 2010, and explained hundreds of sexually explicit text messages he sent to the boy in the following months were just "fantasy fun" and not real — "that's like my fetish."
But state prosecutor Michael Kugler blasted Lopicola's nearly two-hour appearance on the stand, telling the jurors Lopicola leaned on his skilled on-air experience to woo them: "He really tried to schmooze you."
"He had the gall to get up on the stand and tell you it's all harmless," Kugler said during his rebuttal to the defense's praise of Lopicola's "genuine" testimony. "This is a defendant who is absolutely reckless."
Prosecutors Kugler and Jessica Kahn say Lopicola knew the teen he met through a Craigslist classified ad was underage and not 18 as advertised, but even if he didn't know, it's a crime.
"Whether he knew he was 15 or not, he's guilty," Kahn said in her closing argument.