The jury trial for David Lawrence, former Goddard high School coach, started Tuesday. Lawrence is charged with crim inal sexual contact after allegations of sexual misconduct with a student on Feb. 4, 2011.
In her opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Florie Nunez told the jurors, “A line was crossed. He had an opportunity to have a relationship with a 17-year-old.”
She said the issue was how far he had allowed this to go. Nunez explained that Lawrence’s wife was out of town. “It was the biggest game of the season and he left early. Texting her, he gave her permission to come to his home.”
Nunez informed the jurors that the student would be able to describe specific places in his home in great detail. The superintendent and principal would give statements saying what should have been done in this situation.
Defense attorney S. Doug Jones Witt spoke to the jury. “The man sitting next to me is not guilty. He is falsely accused. He is a husband, a father with two daughters, a winner of the Character Counts award and 17-year veteran of the public school system.”
Witt argued that Lawrence “cared about his kids too much.”
Witt pointed out that the girl had told several different stories to the police. “But this man’s story has never changed.”
The first witness for the state was the victim. She discussed an ongoing relationship with Lawrence where she would come into his classroom to talk to him. “I’d sit on the desk. … He touched my leg or my arm.”
She admitted that she had a crush on him since her freshman year when she took health from him, and she acknowledged she had pursued him, leaving notes for him on his computer or his desk where other people could not find them.
ADA Debra Hutchins provided the witness with a note. She confirmed the handwriting was hers. Hutchins asked repeatedly, “Did he ever tell you this was inappropriate? Did he ever tell you to stop? Did he ever tell you to go away?” Each time, the victim replied that Lawrence had not.
She told the jury about the night in February when, she said, the two had texted several times and then he let her into his home. According to the witness, the en-counter was brief, lasting about 15 minutes, when he “touched me everywhere,” but she denied penetration. Lawrence then sent her away.
When Witt asked what had become of the texts, she said she didn’t have the phone anymore, but another student had seen them.
Later the girl told friends that she and Lawrence had had sex. The victim described the consequences of that action and her return to school.
“People who I thought were my friends wouldn’t talk to me. … I’ve been thrown out. I’ve lost my volleyball scholarships. I have been followed and harassed.”