A teenage male accuser told jurors on Tuesday that his teacher touched him inappropriately on several occasions at Neelsville Middle School and in the teacher’s car.
The 15-year-old was the first witness called in the trial of Cuyler Cornell, 51, of Germantown. The seventh grade English teacher was indicted on two counts of third-degree sex offense and one count of sexually abusing a minor.
The prosecution claimed Cornell developed a sexual relationship with the teen between Jan. 1, 2011, and Oct. 10, 2011. The alleged incidents began when the teen was 13, during his seventh grade year, according to court testimony.
Cornell's attorney portrayed the teen accuser as troubled and unreliable. Patch is withholding the name of the juvenile victim because he is a minor.
During his testimony Tuesday, the teenager claimed Cornell began giving him shoulder and back rubs in his classroom during lunch detentions as a way to alleviate stress. But the contact escalated to rubbing the student’s buttocks and genitals, with one of the alleged incidents occurring during a car ride from school.
Prosecutors said they would attempt to show that Cornell tried to use the teen’s troubled background as a way to harbor trust.
Timothy Hagan, a prosecutor with the state’s attorney’s office, said the accused presented a scenario in which the teen “might lose the one person who took an interest in the day-to-day interactions of his life” if he told authorities what was happening.
Cornell’s attorney, Reginald W. Bours III, countered that the teen accuser was “a troubled young man who cannot be relied on.”
During his opening statements, Bours said he would show that the teen’s accusations were fabricated, skewed by police investigators, and were “maybe something he imagined.”
“I’m not here to defend child abuse,” Bours said to the jurors. “I’m here to defend a very good man and a dedicated teacher.”
Bours pointed to Cornell’s past and his nearly 20 years as an educator. He said Cornell had never problems in his career dealing mainly with middle school students.
Testimony from the teenager is expected to continue Wednesday.