ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A jury has reached a verdict in the trial of a former Albuquerque middle school teacher accused of inappropriately touching a student.
Kenneth Jehle has been found not guilty on all three counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor.
Jehle’s accuser claims the touching happened on three separate occasions while she was a seventh grader at Taft Middle School in 2014.
The victim’s mother spoke with KRQE News 13 Wednesday and says the justice system failed her daughter. She says after Wednesday’s verdict, her daughter feels like she should have never spoken up.
During closing arguments, the defense told the jury the alleged victim’s story changed several times over the course of the case – from when the girl initially told her sister about the touching, explained what happened at a safe house, and told her story again on the stand this week.
Jehle’s attorney also questioned why just one student who allegedly witnessed two incidents gave a statement, asking why other students who were there did not testify.
The prosecutor argued Jehle used his position as a teacher to inappropriately touch his accuser.
“Teachers are very aware of their actions. He was her teacher, he was her IEP sponsor and he abused her,” prosecutor Caitlin Dillon said. “He abused that trust, he crossed the line and he violated her.”
The state also brought into question Jehle’s training, years of teaching experience, and lack of judgment.
Prosecutors defended inconsistencies in the alleged victim’s story saying she was just 13 years old and it happened three years ago.
Although Jehle was found not guilty, the victim’s mother says she feels that verdict was wrong.
Jehle and his attorney did not wish to comment, but he walked out of court a free man, with a smile on his face.
Jehle still faces a second trial involving another alleged victim.
The victim’s mother says she will attend the next trial, and that she’s hoping for a guilty verdict.
APS fired Jehle after he was arrested. The victim’s family also filed a lawsuit against APS and in 2015, they payed the girl’s family $750,000 through a settlement.