It could be just about every teacher’s nightmare – in the course of a job dedicated to helping raise the next generation, someone makes an accusation of impropriety. Even worse, the allegations center around inappropriate sexual contact or abuse that could derail one’s future and lead to time in jail. Despite professed innocence, the criminal justice system can be aggressive in seeking to punish those accused of such acts, which can leave those facing charges uncertain of their future.
This difficult scenario recently played out over about five months for a student teacher in New York. In the end, however, charges were dropped against the man after prosecutors lost faith in their case. The case began when another teacher reported alleged inappropriate contact to a supervisor. An internal investigation at the school did not find evidence of any impropriety, but the accuser took the allegations to the police, who then opened up an investigation.
In what might be considered a classic tale of aggressive police tactics, investigators apparently interrogated the accused teacher for seven hours, allegedly garnering statements they considered a confession. However, the young teacher maintained his innocence in court, stating that he had never admitted to any crimes and that the questionable confession was both coerced and false.
Investigators weren’t able to collect much evidence in support of the allegations levied against the teacher. Two other teachers did not report any questionable conduct, and interviews with 13 children also did not uncover much conduct that could be considered questionable. In addition, the accuser submitted a number of tapes shot of the teacher facing charges, but none showed any inappropriate conduct.
After five long months, the teacher’s nightmare is over now that prosecutors have dropped the charges. While this case shows that facing sex crimes charges can be extremely difficult, it also shows how a consistent and strong defense against the charges can counteract initial pressure from police and prosecutors. For the teacher involved here, his story isn’t over – he plans to return to his home country of Denmark and complete his studies, so that he may start his career as a teacher. For anyone facing similar circumstances, there is hope of a fair outcome.
Source: New York Times, “Sexual Abuse Case Dropped Against Intern at Preschool,” James C. McKinley, Jr., Nov. 13, 2014