Wednesday, November 7, 2007
By Jim O’Hare
Staff writer Post Standard
Jurors who found teacher Albert Scerbo guilty of molesting one of his students offered conflicting testimony in court today about how they reached that verdict.
One juror, Shelly McGraw, said she was convinced to convict Scerbo based on information shared during deliberations by two other jurors with educational backgrounds. She said the fact one of those teacher jurors said teachers are trained not to touch children convinced her of Scerbo’s guilt.
But the two jurors with educational backgrounds both denied that was the context of the conversation during deliberations.
David Arkerson and Louis Chistolini both said teachers get no such training and they recalled the conversation simply being in the context of what everyone knows is common sense in this day and age.
County Judge William Walsh reserved decision on the motion by defense lawyer Edward Menkin to set aside the Aug. 2 verdict and grant Scerbo a new trial.
Scerbo was found guilty of one felony count of sexual abuse and one misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child involving allegations he molested one of his music students at the Onondaga Nation School.
A battery of charges relating to 16 additional victims were dismissed or the jury voted not to convict.
Walsh seemed to indicate he was leaning toward granting the defense motion when he tried to end the hearing today after McGraw testified. Only after arguing from the prosecution did Walsh allow Assistant District Attorney Gary Dawson to have Arkerson and Chistolini testify to rebut McGraw’s contention.
Walsh told both sides he’d have a written decision soon.