Joseph Nieto's Third Trial Goes to Jury

Monday, April 24, 2006

For the third time, a jury is deciding whether a former Clovis Unified teacher is guilty of molesting his students. The third trial of Joseph Nieto is now in the hands of the jury.

The former Clovis Unified teacher has already been on trial twice before, but the first conviction was overturned and a second jury deadlocked on the more serious molestation charges.

There were some passionate arguments from both sides on Monday.

In closing arguments, the prosecution called Joseph Nieto a "pedophile" and a "child molester."

A third jury in almost ten years will now try to decide once and for all whether the former Lincoln Elementary School teacher molested five girls in his fourth grade classroom.

Deputy District Attorney Rudy Carillo said, "They all talk about being tickled ... talk about being put on his lap. They all talk about trying to get off and being pulled back."

The girls also testified Nieto touched their private areas, but the defense says that still hasn't been proven.

The defense highlighted what they called inconsistencies in the statements of the girls and their parents.

Legal analyst Tony Capozzi says it could be a key issue as the jury deliberates, "What the defense has to do is convince one juror that there's some doubt in this case, some reasonable doubt. The D.A. has to convince all 12 that this person is guilty."

Past trials have not settled the issue. The prosecution pleaded with the jury to reach a decision, "You have family these children trust and right below are teachers. There are people that have a tremendous impact on our lives and Joseph Nieto played that role to the hilt."

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