By Luke Lavoie, firstname.lastname@example.org
7:15 PM EST, November 8, 2013
Clarence Taylor III, who is deaf, will have to wait until at least Tuesday for a verdict from the jury, which recessed at 4:30 p.m. Friday, on the seven counts of child sex abuse he is facing.
Earlier on Friday, which was the 10th day of the trial, three counts of child pornography were dropped by the State’s Attorney’s office.
Taylor, who is no longer employed by the school, is accused of committing the acts at the Columbia campus on Old Montgomery Road between 2008 and 2011.
Taylor, 38, repeatedly signed, “it’s not true, it never happened,” in response to questions from the prosecution, referring to testimony from the seven students. He acknowledged that there might have been accidental touching in the school’s hallways.
Taylor denied accounts by two students who said he pulled them into an alcove and kissed them on the lips.
Other students, who were aged 10 to 13 at the time, said Taylor grazed and grabbed their breasts, buttocks and vagina on the outside of their clothing, according to the prosecution.
Taylor is also accused of sending text messages to some of the students, requesting pictures of their breasts, according to the prosecution.
Toward the end of his two-plus hour testimony, Taylor, whose two daughters and wife were in the courtroom, became visibly frustrated in his signed responses to some of the prosecution’s questions, and signed that one of the students “lies and makes up stuff.”
In closing arguments, the prosecution argued that Taylor’s responses on the witness stand differed from answers given during a four-plus hour interview with Howard County Police after his arrest in December of 2012.
Taylor, who, according to prosecutors, admitted some guilt during the interview, said the interpreter at the police interview skewed his responses and that he misunderstood some questions.
Defense attorney Brandon Mead said Taylor took the stand in his defense to “tell his side of the story.”
In his closing arguments, Mead said that the state did not meet the burden of proof necessary for a conviction.
“The state is hoping you will use your emotions, not your brains,” he said. “Not all touches are bad touches. There is no evidence the touches were sexual in nature.”
Mead also questioned the credibility of the seven students stating, “their stories don’t add up, which lends credibility issues to anything they said.”
Mead’s two motions for acquittal on the seven charges, which he made after the state rested and after he rested, were denied by Judge William V. Tucker.
Assistant State’s Attorney Lisa Broten said Taylor’s assertion that the incidents were accidental is “absurd,” and said the jury should be leery of the defense’s attempt to paint the allegations as a conspiracy “cooked up” by the students.
“This case is not about a conspiracy or an accident,” she said in her closing arguments. “It’s about a man who repeatedly molested young children under his watch.”
After the jury recessed for the day, Mead said he and his client felt “positive” about their defense.
“It's one of those cases where the evidence is the accounts of seven young girls,” he said. “What's going to be crucial is (the jury) following the order of the judge to give separate consideration (for each count).”
Broten, in her closing arguments, said it is up to the jury to decide who is telling the truth.
“This case comes down to who you believe?” she said. “Do you believe (the students) or do you believe the defendant?”
The jury will resume deliberations at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
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