The sex abuse trial of a Germantown middle school teacher may not reach a jury’s hands until Monday, Circuit Court Judge Robert A. Greenberg said Thursday.
The absence of a key defense witness and issues regarding access to medical and school led to the delays. Meanwhile, jurors on Thursday heard testimony from nine witnesses called by the defense.
Cuyler Jay Cornell, 51, of Germantown, has been indicted on charges of sexual abuse of a minor and sex offense. Cornell taught seventh grade English at Neelsville Middle School. One of his former students has accused Cornell of touching his genitals and buttocks.
On Thursday, Montgomery County Police Det. Cpl. Tracie Copeland told jurors that in initial interviews with police, the alleged victim did not mention sexual conduct between him and Cornell but said he sat on the teacher’s lap and received shoulder rubs.
In her testimony Thursday, Copeland said her initial thought was that the conduct was “inappropriate” but “not criminal.”
“But then I started getting more phone calls from the principal,” Copeland said.
It was on subsequent interviews with the alleged victim that sexual contact was mentioned, Copeland said. According to her testimony, she interviewed at least nine students, including the alleged victim’s sister.
Jurors also heard from a parent, a student and colleagues of Cornell, each describing him as a “mentor” who would go the extra mile for his students.
Loretta Favret, director of Elementary Leadership Development with Montgomery County Public Schools, taught with Cornell at Cabin John Elementary School several years ago. She said they have since remained friends.
Favret said that while they were at Cabin John, Cornell joined her as a chaperone on overnight trips with male and female students. She said there were students at the school who “worshipped” him.
On cross examination, Ryan Wechsler, who is with the Montgomery County state’s attorney’s office, asked Farvet if she thought it were appropriate for 13-year-old students to sit on a teacher’s lap.
“I don’t think a teacher should allow a student to sit on their lap,” Wechsler said.
She later said she never observed any inappropriate conduct involving Cornell.