Susan Burke found not guilty
(AP, ABC7) A former Greencastle Elementary School teacher has been acquitted on charges that she choked and scratched some of her students.
The jury returned the verdict Friday afternoon, finding Susan Burke not guilty of all charges.
"There was just no evidence... beyond reasonable doubt,” one juror told ABC7 as she was walking out of the court through a separate door.
Susan Burke faced ten charges of second-degree assault and two charges of second-degree child abuse. Several former students testified in court earlier in the trial that Burke choked them when they acted up in class. The students, however, at times offered confusing and contradictory accounts of what had happened.
"The evidence was overwhelming in my clients’ favor,” said Burke’s attorney Todd Mohink.
Burke on Thursday testified that there were only three reasons she would have to touch a student: To tap them on their back to get the student’s attention, break up fights or to prevent students from hurting themselves during role playing.
She denied that she ever choked the students.
"I have mixed feelings... Teachers are forced to raise children,” said parent Mike Withers.
On the stand, the children sometimes offered contradicting accounts. One of the boys said he was choked twice, then minutes later said happened 10 times. The teacher says she never touched the students inappropriately.
Some parents still side with the young students, like Fatima Miller whose daughter knows one of the boys.
"My thought is because she touched the child in any shape... which is wrong,” Miller said.
But despite professing to mixed feelings, Withers is ready to turn the page.
"I certainly support the teachers,” he said.
Burke was a teacher at Greencastle Elementary School in Silver Spring. She was accused of assault during the 2010-2011 school year and was arrested last February. She was placed on administrative leave.