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Mixed verdict in case of Waterville teacher accused of sexual abuse
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - A mixed verdict has both sides claiming at least partial victory in the case of the Waterville Elementary School gym teacher accused of sexually abusing a child.
On Thursday morning, a jury found David Lemery not guilty of the more serious crime of course of first-degree sexual conduct against a child and guilty of the same crime in the second-degree. The victim, now 19, had said that Lemery abused her from 1997-2002 while she was his student. She said he would pull down both their pants and have her sit on his lap in his office.
The jury's first question when they got the case on Wednesday was if whether or not the two were clothed was a factor in either charge. Bare skin contact was only required for the more serious count. Prosecutors say the mixed verdict is still a victory.
"I absolutely feel that this is a victory because it shows that the jury believed the victim and that's very important," says Prosecutor Dawn Catera Lupi.
If convicted of course of sexual conduct in the first-degree, Lemery would have faced up to 25 years in state prison. The fact that the sentencing guidelines change drastically has his attorneys claiming partial victory.
"It's certainly a partial victory," Defense Attorney Michael Spano said. "He was facing a mandatory state prison sentence if he was convicted of the top count of 25 years in state prison. Now the sentencing options are wide open. There's no mandatory state prison sentence he will be facing."
Lemery will be sentenced July 11 in Oneida County Court. Prison time is not mandatory. The judge can sentence him to anything from probation up to seven years in state prison.