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The Suburbanite
  • Jury deliberating in Dean's sexual assault trial

  • A jury is deliberating in the trial of a former high school teacher accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl while helping her stretch prior to a sporting event.

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  • A jury started deliberations Thursday morning in the trial of a former high school teacher who is accused of digitally penetrating a 16-year-old girl he was helping with stretching exercises.
    Bradford L. Dean, 33, is charged with sexual battery, a third-degree felony. The alleged misconduct occurred Feb. 19.
    Dean is the head performance coach at a strength and conditioning facility in Jackson Township that works with high school and college athletes.
    Closing arguments lasted nearly an hour in Stark County Common Pleas Court.
    “The bottom line is no 16-year-old is going to make up a story like this and subject herself to all the things she’s been subjected to,” said Chryssa Hartnett, an assistant Stark County prosecutor.
    She alluded to the girl’s emotional testimony, and the testimony of her mother and grandmother that Hartnett said backed up the teenager’s statements.
    The girl’s testimony would be enough for a conviction, she argued. But there’s more evidence, Hartnett contended, including sexually-suggestive text messages sent by Dean to a co-worker that she said were about the girl and highly damning.
    She also referenced some of questions that jurors asked witnesses, including those about the girl not wearing underwear beneath her sweatpants when she was massaged in the groin area by Dean when the alleged incident occurred.
    “This trial is not about what she wore to (the stretching session) that day,” she said. “... What she was or was not wearing changes nothing about (Dean’s) actions.”
    Defense attorney Rick Pitinii said that the juror questions indicated there is reasonable doubt and the verdict should be not guilty.
    He contended that Hartnett was being critical of the jury for asking questions. “I’m shocked,” he said.
    Pitinii said the questions were all valid, including those about why the girl told her grandmother of the alleged incident before her mother and why she would play a high school basketball game after the incident.
    Hartnett said the girl had a close relationship with her grandmother and was scared about the repercussions of sharing what had happened. And she played in the game to take her mind off the traumatic incident — behavior that is normal for a 16-year-old girl, Hartnett said.
    Pitinii said it was the defense who brought up the defendant’s past conviction of sexual battery. In 2006, Dean pleaded guilty to having consensual sex with an 18-year-old female student. However, it was discussed only in general terms in court. Dean did not testify.
    The girl’s family said they were unaware of the full details of Dean’s past conviction until after the criminal charge was filed against him in this case.
    “You don’t have to like Brad,” Pitinii said. “You don’t have to agree with the way he talks (in text messages) — in the gym, testosterone-driven world, they talk differently than we talk here ... I don’t judge.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Reach Ed at 330-580-8315 or ed.balint@cantonrep.com
    On Twitter: @ebalintREP