A Columbia County jury deliberating on the guilt or innocence of former Harlem mayor and county Commissioner Scott Dean, who is accused of molesting one of his adopted daughters, has reached a verdict on one count but is still deliberating on the second.
The jury deliberated for an hour after a third day of testimony on Wednesday. They resumed at 9:30 a.m. today and broke for a lunch break just before 1 p.m.
Shortly after deliberations resumed at 2 p.m., the juror sent word to the judge that they had reached a verdict on the charge involving Dean allegedly exposing himself to the victim, but were stumped on the count alleging molestation. Superior Court Judge James G. Blanchard instructed them to continue deliberating.
Dean, 42, is charged with two counts of child molestation. He's accused of exposing himself to and inappropriately touching his daughter, one of the five he and his wife adopted from Guatemala in 2008.
Dean and his oldest daughter, Marlin, testified Wednesday along with the children's English coach, who claimed Marlin told her that Dean inappropriately touched her in her bed at night.
Marlin, who ran away to Mexico just days before her younger sister made allegations against Dean in October 2010, testified that she was referring to her real Guatemalan father, not Dean.
The victim in the case, now 17, said from the stand Tuesday that Dean crawled into her bed and touched her vaginal area.
Dean and Marlin testified that the victim was lying about the allegations.
"Any child molester would make the same claim of their accusers," Assistant District Attorney Parks White said during closing arguments Wednesday. "This child deserves justice, just like any other citizen."
Dean's attorney Pete Theodocion claimed the victim made up the allegations, just after her older sister ran away, to get out of the house. Both girls admit they did not get along with Dean's wife, Renee. She testified Tuesday that she wanted to go with Marlin and would do anything to get out of the house.
"(The victim) didn't want to be there. She wanted to be with Marlin," Theodocion said during his closing arguments Wednesday afternoon. "(The victim) never made any allegations at all until Marlin left. That's when the motive came to light, to get out."
While in Mexico, Marlin insinuated to Columbia County sheriff's investigators by phone that Dean might have touched her. She met with District Attorney Ashley Wright, a meeting set up by Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan, after returning a couple of months ago.
Marlin testified that in that meeting Wright did not let her answer questions and called her a liar.
Wright took the stand Wednesday testifying that her conversation with Marlin was neutral, and not a formal statement of facts at all. She denied calling Marlin an liar.
Dean denied any inappropriate touching or exposing himself while testifying Tuesday.
The incidents allegedly occurred between Sept. 1, 2008 and Oct. 11, 2010, according to an amended indictment issued in September.
The victim said she was 15 at the time of the incidents, but could not narrow down a date. If the alleged acts occurred after her 16th birthday on Sept. 12, 2010, no law was broken.
"Sept. 8 is a crime," Theodocion said. "Sept. 13 is not. She couldn't tell either way."
Theodocion also called several witness to testify to Dean's character and trustworthiness. State Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans, said Dean has a good reputation as did county Planning Commissioner Bob Newkirk, and two longtime friends and colleagues.
The victim has lived with foster parents since early this year.
Dean was not allowed in the Harlem home he shared with his family after the Department of Family and Children Services removed the adopted children in October 2010.
He is a former member of the Harlem City Council and city Mayor. He was elected as the District 4 county Commissioner in 2008 and was related in November 2010 despite being accused several months earlier of sending inappropriate text messaged to a married county employee.
Dean resigned his commission seat after being indicted in February.