Judge dismisses two sexual contact counts in Tydel John case At trial, John's sister and co-workers testify to teacher's character
Published: September 8, 2012
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ST. CROIX - The prosecution has rested its case in the child molestation trial of former elementary school teacher Tydel John and before the defense began its case Friday, V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks dismissed two of the charges.
John initially was charged with multiple counts of child molestation, unlawful sexual contact and child abuse in connection with three different arrests since 2007.
John was arrested three separate times: Dec. 5, 2007; in April of 2008; and in August 2009.
In the first two arrests, he was charged with molesting girls between the ages of 8 and 13 as he taught at two different schools on the island. While on pre-trial release, he was charged with touching a girl in Mutual Homes.
Before the jurors came into the courtroom Friday morning, Willocks had entertained a Rule 29 motion for dismissal on John's behalf.
In the motion, defense attorney Martial Webster argued that the charges against John should be dismissed because the prosecution had failed to present sufficient evidence to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Webster argued that most of the accusers did not testify with any great detail about the alleged illegal conduct, and they did not prove that they had experienced any emotional injury.
"Some of them got up on the stand and they cried, but who knows what they were crying for," he said.
Assistant Attorney General Charlotte Pool Davis argued that she believed the evidence was clear and that the prosecution had proved its case that John molested the girls and that they had suffered emotional injury as a result.
"These girls took the witness stand and were clear in what he did," she said. "All of the charges should be upheld."
Willocks said that even in looking at the facts in the light most favorable to the prosecution, he did not believe that the charges were proved on two of the counts of unlawful sexual contact, and he dismissed those two counts.
He asked the attorneys to submit briefs in support of their arguments for or against the dismissal base on the presence of emotional injury.
When jurors returned to the courtroom on Friday, they heard from John's sister, who said she filed the paperwork to bring John from their home in St. Vincent and got him his first job in the territory at St. Croix Christian Academy. She said teaching is all he knows and that he is a great teacher and a hard worker who loves his family.
Two of John's former co-workers from Eulalie Rivera School and Evelyn Williams School also took the stand, describing their good working relationship with him.
Earlier this week, jurors heard from Shalimar Hodge and Darlene Springer, two outreach specialists, whose presentation on "good touches and bad touches" prompted four female students at Evelyn Williams Elementary School to report that John had been touching them inappropriately.
So far during the trial, jurors have heard from all nine of John's accusers; other former students; school officials from Eulalie Rivera School, Evelyn Williams School and Good Hope School; police officers and detectives; hospital officials; and the case agent, Naomi Joseph, who took the stand as the final witness Thursday afternoon before the prosecution rested its case.
The trial, which began Aug. 28, has reached the end of its second week, and Webster is expected to continue calling witnesses next week.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.