During his testimony in circuit court on Friday, a Germantown teacher adamantly denied allegations that he touched a former male student’s private parts.
“Did you ever touch or attempt to touch (the alleged victim’s) penis?” defense attorney Reginald W. Bours III asked.
“No,” Cuyler Jay Cornell, 51, of Germantown, said abruptly, his face flushed red.
Cornell is expected to continue his testimony today.
A 15-year-old accuser claims Cornell touched his buttocks and genitals and asked him for kisses while he was a student at Neelsville Middle School, where Cornell taught seventh grade English.
In his testimony on Friday, Cornell described the alleged victim as an emotionally troubled teen who had a penchant for exaggeration, may have had questions about his own sexual orientation and suffered from hallucinations.
When asked by Bours whether he ever did anything for the alleged victim that he would not have done for other students, Cornell paused, then said:
“I would for any eighth grade grader who had the number of —,” Cornell started to say, before pausing. “… I would allow myself to be a sounding board for (the alleged victim).”
Cornell’s accuser claimed some of the alleged incidents occurred during the summer of 2011 while he was performing student service learning hours in Cornell’s classroom. The teen and Cornell offered different dates for when those SSL hours were performed.
On cross-examination, prosecutor Timothy Hagen asked Cornell about an incident reported to school staff by a Neelsville science teacher. The teacher had earlier testified that she saw the alleged victim, then an eighth grader, sitting on Cornell’s lap.
Cornell told jurors that the teen wandered into his room after school and struck up a conversation. Meanwhile, Cornell was busy preparing grades and working out a schedule for a pep rally. Since the teen was out of his line of sight, Cornell recalled saying, “Move over here where I can see you.”
“He sat on my knee,” Cornell testified. “At first I didn’t say anything. I’m not even sure I noticed he was there at first.”
Then the science teacher came into the room. Cornell claimed the teen voluntarily stood up. The teacher testified that Cornell jolted his leg, prompting the teen to get up quickly.
Cornell, who has been on paid leave since the incident was reported to school administrators, said he was never given specific reasons for why he was put on leave but “suspected” it had to do with the alleged victim sitting on his leg.
“I thought it was just a formality,” Cornell said of his initial interview with Montgomery County police.
Cornell has been indicted on sexual abuse of a minor and sex offense charges. The case may go to the jury today.