Editor's Note: Check back soon for a more in-depth follow up report on Nishihara's current situation, including insight from some of his closest friends and supporters.
A 29-year-old substitute teacher from Cerritos involving a Los Coyotes Middle School student was found not guilty by a 12-person jury last month.
After a 5-day trial that lasted from Aug. 6-10, a jury at the Downey Superior Court deliberated for less than 10 minutes before acquitting Ted Nishihara of one misdemeanor charge of molesting a student while substitute teaching at the La Mirada middle school on March 2, defense attorney Mark Werksman told Patch.* Keep up-to-date on all Cerritos-Artesia news, alerts and events by “liking” us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.
Defense Attorney: The D.A.'s Office Should Have Never Filed The Case
While satisfied with the outcome, Werksman criticized the District Attorney's decision to prosecute the case.
"The evidence in the case was weak and incredibly inconsistent, the D.A.'s office should have never filed it, as the jury obviously concluded," said Werksman. "Mr. Nishihara deserved better, he's a good teacher and a caring man and we're just glad it's over."
The defense attorney went on to say that he believed the criminal complaint may have been filed as a result of hypersensitivity in scandal-plagued atmosphere, given that the allegation against his client was made shortly after two Los Angeles Unified School District teachers were arrested for lewd acts and sexual crimes against students -- accusations that triggered a flurry of media coverage and a public outcry by the community.
"It's an example of a prosecution based upon hysteria, overreaction and hypersensitivity involving accusations against teachers," Werksman said.
"Mr. Nishihara is now going to have to pick up the pieces of his life and move on," Werksman added. "He has had to deal with the public humiliation and danger of a prosecution that could have resulted in him being registered sex offender for life -- he has been living this nightmare since March."
Nishihara, who had no prior criminal record, was and booked at the after the mother of a Los Coyotes Middle School student told authorities that the substitute teacher had touched her daughter in a sexual manner during class.
At the time, Nishihara -- who graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2006 with a Psychology degree -- had been regularly working as a substitute teacher in the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District, the Garden Grove Unified School District and the .
Prior to his arrest, at Willow Elementary School (in Lakewood), but after Los Angeles County Sheriff's detectives launched their investigation, he was released from his employment with all three districts.
When asked whether the ABC School District would consider re-hiring Nishihara as a substitute teacher since he was acquitted, in an email replied:
"We are not accepting applications for substitute positions since we have a sufficient pool to draw from."
Nishihara Today: Just Trying to Figure Out "What God Has Planned For Him"
While Nishihara has not resumed substitute teaching since being acquitted last month, a close friend who has shared the same religious circles with him for the past 16 years told Patch that the religiously devout young man, who has dedicated his life to helping others, has been spending most of his time serving at Catalyst Christian Community Church in Long Beach.
"I know he's been serving at his church a lot and spending time with friends," said Pastor Chris Fukunaga of A Village Community Church in Long Beach. "I think at this point, it's still pretty fresh since the case ended, so I don't think he's had time to look for work. I think right now, he's just trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life and see what God has planned for him."
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HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE OUTCOME OF THIS CASE? DO YOU THINK HIS REPUTATION IS FOREVER TARNISHED AS A RESULT OF THE ALLEGATIONS, DESPITE HIS ACQUITTAL?