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Former Teacher Acquitted of Student Sex Charges

Cook County Criminal Defense Lawyer Assisting with Sexual Abuse and Assault Matters

A former chemistry teacher and basketball coach at Evanston Township High School was acquitted Thursday of charges that he had sex with a 14-year-old student. Cook County Criminal Court Judge Michael Bolan ruled that prosecutors did not prove their case against Carl Palmer, 29, beyond a reasonable doubt. In an interview after the judge's ruling, Palmer, who always maintained his innocence, said that he is grateful for the verdict, and that the allegations had essentially ruined his professional life.

"I lost everything," Palmer said.

Palmer lost his job at Evanston Township, where he had been teaching for a year before the allegations. And he has been unable to get another teaching job because of the accusations, he said. Palmer said that, in 1999, he moved in with his parents, both ministers, in Silver Springs, Mississippi, and has been without regular work since.

"It's going to be a healing experience for me and my family. I am also praying for her healing," he said of his accuser.

Palmer said he would now work to get his criminal arrest record expunged and look for work, possibly as a chemist. Although he said he loves to teach, he has decided to steer clear of the teaching profession. The 14-year-old alleged that she had sex with Palmer on five occasions in his Chicago apartment between January and March 1998, per the indictment charging Palmer with criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Palmer said he had acted as a mentor to the student a few months before the allegations but did not have a sexual relationship with her. Even after the student made the allegations, he sent her a Christmas card and had also sent her a Valentine's Day card before being charged, per court documents.

Four former freshman basketball players who were coached by Palmer two years ago testified on behalf of him, saying he is a good man, said Stephen Komie, Palmer's defense lawyer. Barbara Gardner, a mother of one of the players who described herself as a "team mom," said outside of court that she testified Palmer was a good teacher and that the complaining witness had a reputation among students' parents as being a liar who had leveled a similar accusation against a middle school teacher a year earlier.

Gardner's daughter, Anna, now a senior, said Palmer had sent Valentine cards to all members of the basketball team, not just to the girl who had leveled the allegations. The student who made the allegations took the stand for the prosecution during the trial, saying that the two had sex. But Komie said there were inconsistencies in her story.

If you are an Illinois teacher, coach or mentor and are facing accusations or criminal charges, contact the experienced defense attorneys of Komie and Associates at 312-268-2800 for a free consultation.

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