The four-day trial of a Williamsburg businessman, who was accused of sexually abusing a teenage relative in 2013, ended Thursday afternoon with a not guilty verdict on all counts.
The eight-woman, four-man jury needed less than 45 minutes to find Eddie Moore, 41, not guilty of first-degree sexual abuse and use of a minor in a sexual performance.
On or about June 15, 2013, Moore allegedly subjected a 14-year-old girl to sexual contact by touching her breast and induced her to engage in a sexual performance by making her take her clothes off.
A second charge of first-degree sexual abuse was dismissed by the court prior to jury deliberations starting.
The girl was 13 years old when the alleged abuse started, and was living with Moore and his now ex-wife, Heather Moore, when the allegations surfaced on Oct. 1, 2014.
Moore’s attorney, B.J. Foley, said he wasn’t surprised by the verdict.
“It’s been two and one-half years. Eddie has been looking for his opportunity to tell his side of the story when he had time to be composed and not under some of the pressure we heard about during the trial. You never know what a jury will do, but I believed in his innocence and I think the verdict represents that,” Foley said after the verdict.
Foley said that at the end of the day, he thinks what ultimately swayed the jury was the fact that the girl was a very troubled young kid that the family had to deal with for some time.
“She had a lot of mental health issues. My heart went out to her. It still goes out to her, but at the end of the day he was looking out for her and things just really got misinterpreted, misconstrued and the jury saw that,” Foley added.
By all accounts, the girl has a well-documented history of lying and cutting her self that predated the alleged abuse. Since she has come forward with the allegations, she has been hospitalized several times for emotional or psychological issues.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Stephens was admittedly disappointed by the verdict.
“We are always disappointed that the verdict didn’t reflect what we think the evidence showed, but we respect it. This is what juries do. It is their decision to make. We believed the evidence pointed in a different direction,” Stephens noted.
Stephens said he has no idea what ultimately swayed the jury.
The jury adjourned to start deliberations in the case about 2:17 p.m. after hearing closing arguments from Foley and Stephens.
About 2:25 p.m. Special Judge John Ray Turner returned to the courtroom to inform attorneys that the jury had two questions.
Jurors were brought back to the courtroom at 2:27 p.m., and Turner informed them that the court could provide individual copies of the jury instructions for each of them. Only one set was initially sent back to the jury.
The jury’s other question dealt with requesting a recording device presumably to play evidence presented during the trial.
Turner informed them that by law they would have to return to the courtroom and whatever they wanted to listen too would be played for them in its entirety.
The jurors resumed their deliberations at 2:38 p.m. and returned with the not guilty verdict on both charges shortly before 3 p.m.
One of the key pieces of evidence presented during the trial was a more than one-hour interview that Moore gave to London Police Department Detective Staci Anderkin on Oct. 2, 2014, which is the day after the allegations surfaced.
During his interview with police, Moore told them that he had been molested when he was five by a slightly older female relative.
When police asked during the interview why he touched the victim and not other children, Moore replied, “The only thing I can put together is the trigger of my past.”
Moore told police during the interview that it was in the best interest of his kids “for me to get away from them … this is the right scenario for my kids … I am guilty.”
Moore took the stand to testify in his own defense last Wednesday afternoon.
When asked why he told Anderkin that he was “guilty” during his interview with police, Moore told jurors Wednesday that he meant he was guilty of checking the girl for cuts and so forth.
“By no means was I guilty of anything sexual,” Moore told jurors.
Moore said he was telling the truth when he told police he didn’t touch the girl’s breasts for sexual gratification.
During the police interview, Moore told police that the girl “lies about a lot of things but she won’t lie about this” and encouraged them to speak with her.
When asked why he told police that, even though she had a well-documented history of lying, Moore responded, “by no means did I think she would ever say anything against me.”
Moore said he now thinks he was “ignorant.”