CONCORD (KRON) — A Concord elementary school teacher was acquitted today of molestation charges involving three former students and a Contra Costa County Superior Court jury deadlocked on counts involving nearly a dozen others.
Joseph Martin, 46, a longtime teacher at Concord’s Woodside Elementary School, was arrested in the spring of 2013 following a parent’s report that he had inappropriately touched her son.
Prosecutors eventually charged Martin with molesting 14 of his former students.
The jury read the verdict in a Martinez courtroom this afternoon, finding Martin not guilty of charges involving three students and deadlocking on charges involving 11 others.
Martin faced 150 counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with 14 male former students at Woodside Elementary School, where he allegedly touched and rubbed boys beneath their shirts on their chests and stomachs, brushed boys’ groin areas and had them sit on his lap.
A jury reached verdicts in connection with three victims in the case of Joseph Martin, but is deadlocked on the 11 remaining victims, according to prosecutors.
During his 22-year teaching career, many parents requested their children be in his class and some even asked him to tutor their kids or spend time with them outside of school because of the positive influence he had on them, he testified.
Martin told the court last month that he wanted to create a positive, fun environment for his class and cared deeply about his students, making sure to focus on the ones that had behavior problems or struggled with their schoolwork. Martin testified that he was affectionate with his students, doling out encouraging pats on the back and chest as well as hugs, but only after checking if it was ok with them.
“It was a natural part of my teaching,” he said.
Martin had also testified about different times he had touched the purported victims in the case. He sometimes gave backrubs to boys if they requested them and once massaged a boy’s calf because he was sore after basketball practice, Martin testified.
Another time, he testified, he lifted a boy up to see if he would be too heavy to carry, and in another instance, he kissed a boy on the cheek while consoling him about his recently deceased brother.
In another incident of alleged inappropriate touching witnessed by a passing teacher, Martin said he had only reached over to catch a boy who was about to fall from a chair in his classroom.
However, he repeatedly denied the allegations of many of the purported victims that he put his hand under their shirts and rubbed their nipples and stomachs.
During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Derek Butts showed the jury a set of letters written by Martin that were addressed to God.
In one letter, Martin wrote, “Dearest Father, Before this, I was living for myself only, I was living to gratify me, serve me and feed my sinful desires… Please God, help me to not get arrested, not go to jail, and in the name of Jesus, not be charged with any crimes.”
Another letter written by Martin and displayed in court read, “I felt evil today. I felt the darkest demons of hell being entertained in my head.”
Martin’s attorney, Patrick Clancy has said that the charges against his client stemmed from school gossip that led to “mass hysteria” and false accusations.
Information from Bay City News, Inc. Services was used in this report.
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