It only took jurors one hour to acquit Gordon Young of all charges. Evidently, the evidence presented as well as the alleged victim was simply not credible.
HAGERSTOWN - A former Ku Klux Klan leader was acquitted Thursday night in Washington County Circuit Court of second-degree sexual offense, sexual abuse of a minor and other crimes after a jury of eight men and four women deliberated for about an hour.
Gordon Creal Young, 41, was charged with the offenses after a 15-year-old girl told Washington County Sheriff's deputies that Young made her perform sexual acts on him at his home on two separate occasions in October 2006.
Young, of 2210 Back Road in Sharpsburg, also was charged with second-degree assault and causing another to ingest bodily fluid.
Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell warned witnesses before the trial began that they were not to mention Young's involvement with the KKK when they testified.
Any mention of his association with the KKK would be prejudicial and could cause a mistrial or reversal of the case, McDowell said.
The soft-spoken girl testified Thursday morning that Young was "an intimidating person." He wanted to punish her for failure to adequately perform household chores and poor performance in school, the girl testified.
"He told me I had to do something that I was going to remember," she testified.
On one occasion, Young locked the door to his bedroom and made the girl perform a sex act on him, the girl testified.
"I was afraid he would hurt me," she testified.
A few days later, Young told the girl she needed to be punished for disrespectful behavior toward him, she testified. He laid on his bed and made the girl perform a sexual act even though she cried and said she didn't want to, she testified.
"He said that the next time I did something wrong, the punishment would be worse," she testified.
Young, who lived at the home with his wife and mother, testified that he never had sexual contact with the girl.
Young's mother, Sylvia Hendricks, testified that the girl would "elaborate" and not always tell the truth.
Young's wife testified that she was with her husband on the evenings in question. Under Cirincion's questioning, Young's wife testified that he was with her every minute of the day when the sexual contact was alleged to have occurred.
Young couldn't recall being alone with the girl at any time during the days in question, he testified.
During his closing argument, defense attorney David Pembroke suggested that the girl wanted to make a change in her life, so she told a story about her contact with Young. Her descriptions of the incidents were also vague and her testimony was flat and emotionless, Pembroke told the jury.
"At 15, she doesn't have the knowledge to fill in the descriptions of the lies," he said.
After the jury's verdict was read, the victim sobbed as family and friends crowded around her and Cirincion clasped her in a hug.
A man sitting near the victim muttered that the verdict was an "injustice."
On the other side of the courtroom, Young's family gathered around him.
During jury selection Thursday morning, Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion objected to the defense's attempts to strike jurors three different times.
"The state objected because the strikes appeared to be racially motivated," Cirincion said after the verdict was read.
Case law prohibits exclusion of jurors based on race, she said. Of her three challenges, two were successful and those two jurors heard the trial.