HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A Henrico jury could not reach a verdict in the trial of a Short Pump Middle School teacher accused of sexually assaulting a student at the school in 2017.
The deadlock happened at the end of a three-day trial in which 60-year-old Dean Lakey took the stand in his own defense.
The former student, now 18 years old, accused Lakey of the assault which she alleged happened inside a school bathroom, after school hours, when she was 14 years old.
Lakey was arrested in September 2021 and charged with six counts related to the alleged assault.
However, prior to the start of Tuesday's trial, prosecutors "nolle prossed" or set aside four of the charges and amended one of the remaining ones. Prosecutors amended the rape charge to object sexual battery, telling CBS 6 the accuser was unsure of what penetrated her during the alleged assault, and also proceeded with one count of indecent liberties with a minor.
Lakey has denied anything ever happened.
This trial lasted three days and the third day, prior to jury deliberations, feature the closing arguments from the defense and prosecution.
Since there were no other witnesses to the alleged incident, each side stressed to the jurors why they should believe the testimony of either the accused or the accuser and why they should doubt the credibility of the other.
The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for nearly four hours Thursday before a mistrial was declared.
Shortly after 2 p.m., the jury sent back a question, according to the defense attorney, that asked how long should they deliberate if they could not reach a unanimous verdict — and what would happen if they could not. He said the judge told them to keep trying.
About 30 minutes later the jury said that they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on either of the two charges.
At that point, the judge called them back in the courtroom and told them to keep trying, but to let him know if they were still unable to reach a consensus.
Then, shortly before 4 p.m., the jurors sent a third note stating they could not reach a unanimous verdict on either charge. The judge questioned the foreperson several times if she thought there would be any change to this deadlock if they went back for more deliberation and the foreperson indicated she did not believe so.
After that, the judge dismissed the jury and declared a mistrial.
The judge then set a status hearing for June 23 at 1 p.m.
Lakey’s defense attorney, Craig Cooley, said he would renew his motion for the judge to strike the charges, arguing the burden of proof required.
Neither the defense attorney nor Lakey spoke to the media afterwards.
Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor said her office will be talking with the accuser to decide whether to go forward with another trial.
However, Taylor added that despite the outcome, it did not lessen their belief in the accuser or her case.
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