Jury Acquits Teacher On Sex Charges Because He Was Drunk, Out Of Control
SEATTLE (AP) _ A school teacher was acquitted of offering money to three male teen-agers in exchange for sex because a jury believed he was too drunk to be held responsible for his actions.
The jurors said they found Emmett James Ford innocent on Wednesday because prosecutors failed to disprove his claim that he was out of control because he was drunk.
Several witnesses, including the victims, testified they believed Ford was sober the night of the incident.
The decision so surprised officials of King County Superior Court that a bailiff followed jurors into the hallway afterward to ask if they had read the judge’s legal instructions about the case.
″Most of the jury felt he did it,″ juror Dana Harris said. ″But because the state didn’t prove he wasn’t intoxicated beyond a reasonable doubt, we had to find him innocent.″
Defense atttorney Jon Zulauf had argued that Ford, a fourth-grade teacher at an Everett school, was innocent because he was so drunk he wasn’t even aware of what was happening.
Ford also testified that he couldn’t remember talking to the youths, and that he had been battling alcoholism and had gone on a binge that night.
But Deputy Prosecutor Saul Gamoran told jurors most people who go to the area in Seattle where Ford was seen at night go to shop for sex or drugs. Further, he claimed that Ford was ″a regular″ in the neighborhood.
Gamoran belittled Ford’s claim that he only went to the area because he enjoys the company of adolescents. The prosecutor also argued that Ford had committed a crime whether he was drunk or not.
Ford, 45, of Kirkland, was charged with two counts of patronizing a juvenile for the purpose of prostitution and a single count of prostitution involving an adult. He had faced up to five years in prison.
Everett School District attorney Valerie Hughes said Ford’s suspension with pay would be continued until an investigation by the district is completed.