Former Lavaca Teacher Accused of Sex Crimes Maintains Innocence, Attorney Says
The attorney for Jack James, 52, a Lavaca alderman and former teacher found guilty of several charges of sexual indecency with a child and harassment Wednesday says his client maintains he’s innocent.
“Our constitution guarantees him a right to a trial by jury,” attorney Michael N. Harry, of Walters & Gaston law firm in Greenwood, said in a statement released Wednesday.
The statement continued: “As such we have adopted the strategy to put on a full defense at the jury trial rather than doing so at today’s [Wednesday] hearing which is only a preliminary step. The misdemeanor verdicts will obviously be appealed and the entire case will be heard before a jury.”
James was found guilty of three counts of attempted sexual indecency with a child and one count of harassment, according to the Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
He was sentenced to serve a year in jail and a $1,000 fine on each misdemeanor count, the prosecutor said.
James will eventually face a felony charge of sexual indecency with a child in circuit court after the judge found enough evidence to move forward with the case. An arraignment date will be set and James will face a jury, the prosecutor said.
“We will put forward a full defense and Mr. James’ innocence will be show at final trial,”
Harry said in a statement.
James is expected to begin serving his sentence in 30 days, according to the prosecutor. She did not know if his sentence will be consecutive or concurrent.
Barling police arrested James on Arkansas Highway 22 following an Arkansas State Police investigation back in August.
The alleged victim was an eighth-grade student of James. State police say James called the victim from class and told him he wanted to do various sex acts with the child. In another instance, police say James made an eighth-grade student expose himself to James.
In another instance, James asked two male students to expose themselves to him, but they refused, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
The alleged offenses occurred during the 2011-12 school year, state police say.
James represents Ward 1 for Lavaca.
The news caused controversy in the Sebastian County town. T-shirts and bracelets supporting James were sold in the area.
After the arrest some people created a Facebook page called “We Support Jack James.” Supporters also set up bank accounts to help pay his legal fees. Some women in town organized a bake sale, which was later cancelled.