UPDATE: Jury convicts former Mount St. Mary counselor for failure to report sex abuse | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

UPDATE: Jury convicts former Mount St. Mary counselor for failure to report sex abuse

Posted By on Wed, Sep 18, 2013 at 2:40 PM

KATHY GRIFFIN: Jury convicts on first-degree failure to report charge.
  • KATHY GRIFFIN: Jury convicts on first-degree failure to report charge.
UPDATE: David Koon reports a Pulaski County circuit court jury has convicted a former Mount St. Mary Academy counselor of failure to report a sexual relationship between a student and another teacher who was a partner of the counselor.

After further deliberation, the jury handed down a sentence of one year on probation and a $2,500 fine.

Earlier today, on the second day of the trial, the state completed its case against  Kathy Griffin, a former Mount St. Mary Academy counselor, for failure to report sexual abuse of a student by her live-in partner and fellow Mount St. Mary teacher Kelly O'Rourke.

O'Rourke entered a negotiated plea to the charge and will be re-sentenced for violating terms of the deal by continuing to attempt to contact the girl from jail. Griffin reported the abuse, after some delay, to the Mount St. Mary principal. She and O'Rourke were fired. Griffin pleaded innocent. She contended she didn't know of the sexual relationship between the teacher and student until after the girl had turned 18 and was no longer a student at St. Mary.

David reports on final testimony:

Principal Diane Wolfe said that two weeks before she called the State Police child abuse hotline, the victim's mother came to her office very distraught. She said the victim wouldn't get out of bed, was crying all the time, and wouldn't go to her college classes. Wolfe referred victim's mother to a therapist for victim. Mother didn't mention sexual abuse. Wolfe testified that it was Kathy Griffin who first told her of the sexual abuse later, with Griffin saying she'd heard it from the parents.

After the jury was dismissed for a break, defense attorney Jeff Rosenzweig made an argument for directed verdict, saying that Griffin wasn't required to report the abuse as a mandated reporter because the victim was over 18. Rosenzweig said that if that was the law, a doctor would be required to report the childhood abuse of an elderly patient if that information was shared with the doctor. The prosecution responded that the evidence shows Griffin knew of the relationship between Kelly O'Rourke and the victim before the victim turned 18, with Griffin "knowingly failing to notify the hotline." Judge Barry Sims denied Rosenzweig's motion for directed verdict.

The defense presented no witnesses.

In closing arguments, the prosecution said that "mandated reporters" are required to immediately report suspicions or knowledge of child abuse, but Griffin had tried to keep this case under wraps by telling parents that it would harm the school and "lose" their daughter if information about the relationship came out. Deputy Prosecutor Jeanna Sherrill depicted this as an attempt to manipulate parents.

She reminded the jury that O'Rourke  testified that Griffin had asked if she was having a relationship with the victim up to six months before victim told her parents. When Griffin initially reported to the child abuse hotline,  it was anonymously, and only after the victim's parents said they planned to report the abuse. Griffin put the other children at Mount St. Mary's at risk, Sherrill said, by not reporting her suspicions, and by trying to convince the victims parents to not report the abuse so that O'Rourke could finish out the school year,  resign and "slip away, into the dark."

In defense closing, Jeff Rosenzweig said that prosecutors are seeking to "scapegoat" Griffin. He argued that she reported the abuse once she knew about it, but "just not fast enough for these people." He pointed out that by the time O'Rourke confessed the abuse to Griffin, the victim was no longer a child. He called it "absurd" that Griffin should have called the abuse hotline based solely on her unsupported suspicions when the victim was still a minor, especially given that O'Rourke denied it.  

Rosenzweig told the jury even the victim didn't want information about the abuse revealed. "They were dealing with an adult who was very clear: 'I don't want anyone to know.' "

In rebuttal, the prosecution said Griffin had tried to manipulate and coerce the family not to report, finally asking the victim's family to look at it as  "a bad breakup."

"The only reason Kathy Griffin called [the child abuse hotline] on March 11 is that her attempted cover up — and that's what this is — had failed," Deputy Prosecutor Terry Ball  said.

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (13)

Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Federal judge wants John Goodson to explain class action maneuvering

    A show-cause order filed Monday by federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith indicates class action attorney John Goodson has some explaining to do about the move of a class action complaint against an insurance company from federal to state court with an instant pre-packaged settlement that has been criticized as a windfall for Goodson.
    • Dec 22, 2015
  • 'Million-Dollar Thursday': A visit to Sherwood's hot check court

    We take a visit to the weekly hot check court in Sherwood District Court, the subject of a recent civil rights lawsuit filed by ACLU Arkansas and others, who say the system there results in a modern-day debtor's prison
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Al Gore remembers Dale Bumpers

    Former Vice President Al Gore, a former U.S. Senate colleague of Dale Bumpers, sent a statement on Bumpers' death Friday:
    • Jan 3, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: House health care bill preserves members' privileges

    • I read your post and I really like your post.Thank you for sharing this post…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Another week done

    • I recently watched the HBO series, "The Newsroom" on Amazon Prime (which I highly recommend…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Another week done

    • "As Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a statement provided to PoliticusUSA, The parliamentarians decision today…

    • on July 22, 2017

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation