FAIRFIELD — A substitute teacher’s nightmare ended Friday when a four-day jury trial ended with quick not guilty verdicts on four child abuse charges involving four second-graders at David A. Weir Elementary School.
Joe Yow, 52, of Suisun City, was arrested by Fairfield police at his home on Oct. 19, 2012, the day after the four children told their parents, who in turn told police, that Yow had grabbed them by their necks and throats in two separate incidents at the school.
The children, all ages 7 or 8, each testified at the trial, giving contradictory and sometimes implausible accounts of what had happened. One child claimed Yow had grabbed one girl in a headlock and then grabbed two boys in other headlocks before banging their heads together and hurling them against a wall.
Yow testified he had touched the children, all labeled by the regular teacher as “trouble students,” on their arms or shoulders as he directed them to the classroom or to the playground. Yow’s defense attorney, Vince Maher, and Judge Robert Bowers both repeatedly reminded jurors that state law gives teachers the same right as parents to touch children appropriately.
The prosecutor from the District Attorney’s Office, a volunteer who got her bar card five months ago, told jurors the children’s’ accounts of what happened was believable. She used the words “from the mouths of babes” in supporting her assertion that was rejected by the jury.
Yow lost his longtime teaching job because of the filing of the criminal charges, Maher said.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.