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Sirens & Gavels

Yakima teacher acquitted of sex abuse

(AP) A Yakima teacher and Eastern Washington University graduate accused of having sex with one of her students was acquitted today of all charges.

After listening to almost two full weeks of testimony, jurors took less than two hours to acquit Michele Taylor of one count of sexual misconduct and two counts of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

The 31-year-old physical education teacher was accused of having sex with the 16-year-old in her husband's truck in a parking lot. Phone records show she sent more than 400 text messages to him and another boy, who was 15 at the time.

Taylor, who earned her teaching certificate at Eastern, testified Monday that she did not have sex with the teen. She said the messages were part of a mentoring relationship. She has been on paid leave from her job at East Valley High School.

Read an in-depth story from the Yakima Herald-Republic by clicking the link below.

Past coverage:

June 11: Gym teacher's husband testifies in sex trial

June 9: EWU grad on trial in teacher sex scandal


By Mark Morey and Chris Bristol

Yakima Herald-Republic, Wash.

(MCT)

Jun. 15--YAKIMA, Wash. -- Michele Taylor cried and hugged her husband after jurors found her innocent of having sex with a 16-year-old student.

''It's such a huge relief to have this over," Taylor said this afternoon as she held hands with Kevin Taylor, a fellow teacher, outside the courtroom.

After listening to almost two full weeks of testimony, jurors found Taylor innocent of one count of sexual misconduct and two counts of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

The 31-year-old Taylor was accused of having sex with the 16-year-old in her husband's truck in the back lot of the Yakima Kmart. Phone records show she sent more than 400 text messages to him and another boy, who was 15 at the time.

The parents of the older boy quickly left the courtroom after the verdict, which followed less than two hours of deliberation by the jury of seven women and five men.

Jurors did not want to comment. One stopped long enough to affirm the verdict -- "I think it was the right one," she said -- but none of her colleagues wanted to discuss the case.

''No comment," the foreman said.

Deputy prosecutor Sam Chen said he respected the panel's work even though he disagreed with the decision.

''These are two kids who don't even know each other," he said. "There's no way they could have concocted something like this."

If convicted, Taylor likely would have spent time in prison and been required to register as a sex offender. She still faces a termination hearing with the school district.

The hearing is expected to focus on whether her contact with the boys was appropriate under school policy.



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