Door County Advocate
By Ramelle Bintz
Jury finds former teacher not guilty of having sexual contact with student
A Door County jury on Friday night found a former Sturgeon Bay math teacher not guilty of having sexual contact with a then-17-year-old female student.
The panel of nine women and three men deliberated for about 3.5 hours after hearing three days of testimony in the trial of …, charged with two felony counts of sexual assault by a school staff member.
… was the female student’s high school math teacher, track coach and student council advisor. The student also baby-sat for … two young children.
When Door County Circuit Judge Peter Diltz announced the verdict, … burst into tears and embraced her husband. The female student who accused him also burst into tears and left the courtroom quickly.
… was arrested … after police took over an internal school investigation into an inordinate amount of text messaging and contact between the two. He had been suspended from his job with the Sturgeon Bay School District … and reached an agreement to resign in ….
In his closing argument, defense attorney Brian Maloney repeated at least three times that … already had paid a stiff price for what Maloney called “his lack of discretion,” having lost his job and facing the likelihood that he will never teach again.
He asked the jury to rule based on “the three C’s: consistency, common sense and corroboration.”
In their final statements to the jury, Maloney and District Attorney Raymond Pelrine agreed that the case boils down to who was more credible, … or the student.
“Crimes like this never have witnesses,” Pelrine said. “They always happen out of the public eye. Then they point the finger at the victim and say, “You’re the liar.”
The case went to the jury shortly before 5 p.m. About two hours later, jurors asked for more information about the number of text messages exchanged between … and the female student the weekend of …, when she alleged they had sexual intercourse at her home.
Then, shortly after 8:30 p.m., they sent word that they had reached the verdict.
Diltz ordered that the defendant be released, … left the courtroom with Maloney without commenting.
Earlier Friday, … took the stand and said his relationship with the female student did not become sexual.
He said a … incident in which the student and her friend testified … was following them throughout the city of … was a matter of coincidence.
He said he did not remember it was an early release school day but that he talked with the girls in the car and asked if the female student wanted to meet to talk in private.
“You were in jeopardy of losing your job,” District Attorney Ray Pelrine said. “Did you think being seen in public with her was a good idea?”
“I asked if she wanted to talk,” … said.
He maintained the conversation was for the female student’s sake, not out of concern for his job.