A Germantown teacher was acquitted on charges of sexual abuse and sex offense, ending a week-long trial spurred by a former student’s allegations that the educator fondled him at school.
The jury took nearly two hours to render the not guilty verdict Tuesday. Facing the charges was Cuyler Jay Cornell, 51, of Germantown, who taught seventh grade English at Neelsville Middle School.
Cornell cupped his fingers over his eyes as his family shrieked and sobbed from the courtroom gallery immediately after the verdict was read.
Cornell has been an educator for more than 20 years.
“And he's waiting on this kid to be his victim? The state’s argument is so ridiculous,” Cornell’s attorney Reginald W. Bours III said after the trial.
His accuser claimed Cornell touched his penis and buttocks in 2011, during the teen's seventh and eighth grade years.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors Timothy Hagan and Ryan Wechsler, from the state's attorney's office, argued that Cornell used his reputation as a well-liked teacher to “groom” possible victims and characterized the teen accuser as “the perfect victim.”
“He got too much back from their relationship to stop contact with him,” Wechsler said during the state’s summation. “And, so he did what the defendant asked of him.”
State's attorneys declined to comment after the trial.
Bours said the accusations were “so implausible as to be beyond belief” and accused the state of trying to build a case around a flawed police investigation too bent on depicting Cornell as a “pedophile.”
“(They) want you all to be thinking back in the jury room of a Jerry Sandusky, not about the evidence in this case,” Bours told jurors during his closing arguments.
Cornell has been on paid leave since the allegations were raised in February.
Bours said he was unable to provide details on what the trial could mean for Cornell’s teaching career except to say that “he would not be going in to teach tomorrow.”
Cornell declined a request to comment after the trial.