Mistrial declared in case of Gaithersburg voice coach accused of sex abuse -- Gazette.Net







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The case of a Gaithersburg vocal coach accused of sexually abusing one of his students ended in a mistrial Thursday.

After more than six hours of deliberations the jury in the case against Timothy Ballard still could not come to a decision, forcing Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Michael Mason to declare a mistrial.

His accuser, a teenager who was one of his former students, had said in court that Ballard had abused him on two separate occasions.

Michael McAuliffe, Ballard’s defense attorney, had claimed that the allegations were nothing more than an angry scheme by an embittered, disgruntled teenager.

The teenager made the allegations, he said, because he was embarrassed after his teacher yelled at him on two separate occasions — once, for teasing another student, and a second time, after the teacher learned that he had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with another boy backstage when Ballard’s students were putting on a production.

“Cases that involve the alleged sexual abuse of a child are difficult to prove because it is often the word of a child versus the credibility of an adult. We will reassess this case and make a determination at a later time,” said Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.

McAuliffe declined to comment on behalf of his client.

The jury was split eight to four in favor of finding Ballard not guilty, said Scott Thompson, one of the four jurors who had believed that Ballard was guilty.

“We were deadlocked because there was not a ton of evidence,” he said.

“It came down to who do you believe.”

“There was the possibility abuse did occur,” said Jeff Berman, another juror, who worked as a lawyer himself.

However, he said, “Even if [one] thought the abuse did occur, it didn’t rise to the level of beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The jurors had doubted the timeline presented by prosecutors, he said, adding that another factor was “the deficient police work.”

The interview of the victim of the alleged abuse was not taped, and the notes from the interview were “skimpy,” he said.

Paula Scali, however, was one of the jurors certain that Ballard had committed the alleged abuse. Scali, 63, said she didn’t think someone would make up such an elaborate scheme just to get revenge on a teacher he didn’t like.

“It didn’t make sense,” she said, adding that the victim could have just stopped going to voice classes.

“Is it reasonable to believe a boy would accuse a man of sexual abuse just because he was mad at him ... Use reason!” she said.