The family of David Lawrence and the defendant himself wept Thursday when Judge Charles C. Currier read the not guilty verdict. After having deliberated for one hour, the jury acquitted Lawrence on a charge of criminal sexual contact.
The charge stemmed from an incident that allegedly took place Feb. 4, 2011, when Lawrence, a coach and teacher at Goddard High School, reportedly let a 17-year-old student into his home.
Lawrence was the primary witness for the defense. He told the court Thursday he had no idea who was at the door when he opened it the day of the incident.
“My wife … buys the biggest floral arrangement she can find … We have frosted glass on the front door. I saw a silhouette, that’s all,” he said.
Lawrence said his reaction when he opened the door and saw the student so late at night was, “what was wrong?” He said he was concerned. “I’ve played that back every night since it happened. … There was no car and it was freezing out.”
He denied any wrongdoing and described his relationship with the student as strictly platonic. Lawrence quoted the victim as saying that night: “I wanted to see if you are going to take this situation any further.” He then replied to her, “There is no situation.”
When Assistant District Attorney Debra Hutchins asked why he had not reported the incident to the school, he said: “This was a pretty embarrassed young lady. I saw no reason for taking it any further.”
He categorically denied ever seeing the note from the victim that principal Andrew Sweet found in his desk.
After the trial, defense attorney S. Doug Jones Witt said, “This (verdict) had everything to do with credibility. She had no credibility.”
Speaking for the prosecution, Assistant District Attorney Flori Nunez said, “Obviously, we are disappointed, but we presented the evidence to the jury and we respect the jury and their decision.”