Levine not guilty of inappropriate touching
Joshua Mark Levine, described by witnesses over the last two weeks as a “fantastic” teacher, was found not guilty Wednesday of inappropriately touching a student in his class.
Levine, a 43-year-old teacher at Castaic Elementary School, was charged with four counts of misdemeanor inappropriate touching of female students in his class during the 2014-15 school year.
The jury remained hung—with 11 jurors voting not guilty and one voting guilty—on the remaining misdemeanor counts involving the other three girls.
Levine’s lawyer, Todd Melnik, asked the court to dismiss the three unresolved charges and, when a lawyer representing the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office voiced no objection, Commissioner Jeffrey M. Harkavy dismissed the remaining three charges against Levine.
“I’m never teaching again,” a visibly shaken Levine told a welcoming crowd of family members and jurors who had gathered in the hallway of the Santa Clarita Courthouse.
“It’s so sad,” he said. “The thought of being in front of kids right now makes me shake.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said.
One juror called the case against Levine a witch hunt launched by educators at Castaic Elementary School.
“I had a hard time sleeping,” said the female juror. “It made me physically ill. For this man being blamed for something he did not do.
“He needs to take this further.”
The juror said she was convinced the Castaic teachers were out to get Levine.
The jury of eight women and four men spent a full day deliberating Wednesday but most of the day was spent debating the issue of sexual intent, said the jury’s foreman outside of the courtroom.
“The prosecutor didn’t bring up sexual intent,” he said. “She showed a lot of stuff that happened. It was sexual intent that was not proven.”
When the “not guilty” verdict was read, Levine began crying, his shoulders shaking.
Levine’s wife, father and mother sat shoulder-to-shoulder in the courtroom as the verdict was being read.
His attorney put an assuring hand on his client’s shoulder as the Commissioner polled each of the jurors about their being deadlocked over the three unresolved charges.
The trial lasted more than two weeks with testimony delivered by the four female students, and several educators, including current and former teachers and principals.
Detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Bureau arrested Levine on May 14, 2015.