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Child-Battering Teacher Asks for New Trial

Retrial could bring up old charges

By Maggie Benson

Willow Glen middle school teacher Mark Carter, convicted three weeks ago of battering a 12-year-old female student, [Touchy Subject, April 17] has asked for a new trial. He refused to say on what grounds. His attorney, Richard Boone, also wouldn't say because he will no longer be representing Carter.

While Carter presumably hopes his conviction will be overturned, a retrial could force him to once again face charges for which he was narrowly acquitted.

Municipal Court Judge Virginia Mae Days postponed Carter's sentencing until June 6, when she will decide whether to grant the request. If she does, Carter will be retried on all three of the crimes he was originally charged with committing, including two counts of battery and one of child molestation.

Mark Fickes, the prosecuting attorney, said new trials are granted only when it can be shown that certain mistakes were made in the original trial. He said he was confident that will not be the case in Carter's trial.

Carter, a teacher and swim coach, was arrested in March 1996 for a January incident involving a female student on his swim team. According to court testimony, Carter made sexual innuendoes while massaging the girl's back during swim practice. The girl testified that he asked her if she had ever performed oral sex on her boyfriend and if her boyfriend had performed oral sex on her.

The girl's boyfriend testified that Carter grabbed him by the back of his shirt shortly after that conversation and pushed him against a fence.

Carter was found guilty of battering his female student and was acquitted of battering her boyfriend. The jury was split on whether Carter was guilty of the charge dubbed "child annoyance/molestation," which involves touching or speaking inappropriately to a minor. Nine of the 12 jurors favored a guilty verdict.

Fickes says he may decide to once again bring Carter up on the molestation charge. But Fickes says he will not make his decision until he has consulted with the girl's family. Carter now faces a maximum sentence of [90 days] in jail and $2,000.

The maximum sentence for child annoyance/molestation is one year in county jail, and those convicted are required to register for life as sex offenders.

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From the May 8-14, 1997 issue of Metro

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