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Jury acquits client, who was a former teacher and basketball coach, of child seduction

Hammond Teacher Not Guilty

Jury acquits client, who was a former teacher and basketball coach, of child seduction.

CROWN POINT | A former Morton High School boys varsity basketball coach and teacher was acquitted Thursday of child seduction charges after about three hours of deliberation by jurors. Benjamin Chinn, 27, then of Merrillville, was charged last year in connection with allegations of having engaged in sexual activities with a 17-year-old student. The four-day trial pitted the word of the girl against that of Chinn, who publicly denied the allegations at the time of his arrest. Following Thursday’s verdict, defense attorney Scott King said Chinn had been a promising basketball coach who is now reduced to tending bar in Arizona. “His life has been ruined,” King said, citing “shabby” treatment by officials and a lack of investigation by police. During closing arguments earlier Thursday, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Aleksandra Dimitrijevic told jurors their decision came down to which person they believed. Dimitrijevic said the girl had nothing to gain by lying. Her statements were corroborated by witness testimony and photographs supporting her depiction of the classroom and office where the sexual activities were alleged to have taken place, she said. Dimitrijevic said the girl had been abandoned by her mother as a 6-year-old, but the girl’s father and a caregiver provided a stable family life for her. She was a good student and had no history of being in trouble in school, Dimitrijevic said. Dimitrijevic described Chinn as a young, attractive and fun coach who took advantage of the girl. However, King told jurors the state did not prove any misconduct beyond a reasonable doubt, as required. King told jurors the state’s case “was merely based on allegation. Nothing more.” “I said she was troubled,” King said in reminding jurors of his opening statements. “I stand by that.” King said the girl initially denied “rumors” spread by a friend in whom she had confided, changing her stance only after being confronted by her father after he’d been contacted by school authorities.

 

Susan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325

06/07/2013

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