Teacher’s sex abuse trial nears conclusion

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 23, 2004

An all-female jury heard from character witnesses for the defense in the sexual abuse trial of former teach Harold Kinard

Kinard is accused of sexually abusing two of his fifth grade students while he worked at Shiloh Elementary in the 1999-2000 school year. The students filed a complaint against Kinard in 2003.

By then he’d changed jobs twice, working as principal at Tipton and later teaching fifth-grade at Bruce K. Craig Elementary.

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Five witnesses testified that Kinard was an upstanding citizen. Most were former co-workers.

Dr. Joyce Weiss, a professor at Concordia, was one of the witnesses testifying for Kinard.

Weiss taught Kinard at Alabama State University. She also worked with him at Concordia, where he held a part-time position before he was arrested in 2003.

“I would say that he was above reproach,” she told the jury.

This trial is the second time Kinard has been accused of sexual abuse. A Tipton girl claimed that Kinard touched her inappropriately. Kinard was suspended by the Dallas County Board of Education for nine days. Kinard testified at yesterday’s trial that he was reinstated after six, when a witness to the alleged act admitted she was lying.

Another witness, a 15-year-old girl, testified yesterday regarding abuse charges at Tipton. She said she was present when the alleged abuse occurred and that no inappropriate contact was involved.

When the complaint was filed in 2003, Dallas County Schools Superintendent Wayne May gave Kinard the choice to resign or be fired by the school board. Kinard was arrested at the Dallas County School Board offices.

Kinard decided to resign. He attempted to withdraw his decision the next day, but May refused. He later filed a civil suit against May and the school board, which is pending on the outcome of Kinard’s criminal trial.

The prosecution called several witnesses to the stand Tuesday, including the two victims. They were 10- and 11-years-old, respectively, when the alleged abuse occurred.

The trial is expected to finish tomorrow, when attorneys for the state and Kinard present closing arguments and the jury deliberates on the case.

This case is the second one scheduled this week involving a Dallas County educator and sexual abuse of minors. James Harris, another former Dallas County School System employee, faced charges of sexual abuse Monday. The trial was continued because Harris was recovering from surgery, according to his lawyer, Billy Fails. Special prosecutor J.L. Chestnut is part of the team representing the state in both trials.

“I thought it (Harris’ medical condition) was hokum, and I said as much to the court,” Chestnut said.

Harris’ attorney Billy Fails said the Harris’ condition was genuine.

“It’s very apparent that Mr. Chestnut doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Mr. Harris had surgery on June 8.” Fails said. “He very much wanted this trial to proceed. A motion to continue should have been filed June 8, but (Harris) insisted on continuing. Mr. Harris is looking forward to a speedy trial.”

Chestnut said the district attorney’s office would request a special court date for the Harris trial.

“We will not be waiting for the next criminal docket (in July),” he said.

District Attorney Ed Greene appointed Chestnut special prosecutor in both cases, to help assistant district attorneys Mitzi Johnson-Theodoro and Andrew Arrington.

Chestnut said there might be more sexual abuse cases involving teachers filed after these trials.

“There is much concern that these cases represent only the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Kinard’s attorney Robert Turner declined to comment.