Jurors have acquitted a substitute teacher accused of hitting a student.
Keith Estabrook hasn’t worked in the Azle school district in over a year because this past January a student at Forte Junior High accused him of hitting her on the head. He was charged with misdemeanor assault by contact.
“It was painful,” Estabrook said. “I don’t even raise my voice to my kids.”
During Wednesday’s trial, most of the witness stories were the same. They said a boy found an empty water bottle and was hitting Estabrook’s accuser, Kylee Gagne, with it. She picked up his chair as if to tip him over and Estabrook stepped in.
Where they differed was how severely he hit her on the head.
“I touched her on the head with no more pressure than you would if you tapped someone in front of you in line at Wal-Mart because they dropped a $20 bill on the floor,” Estabrook said.
He used a mannequin to show jurors what he did.
Gagne told a different story.
“He hit my open handed. It was a strike. It wasn’t a touch,” she said.
The girl’s mom testified she took her to the hospital and a doctor’s report showed she had a bump on her head.
Other students told the court they didn’t think about reporting the incident to administrators. And another teacher who was working in the same room at the time didn’t realize there was a problem.
After deliberating for only five minutes, a jury of six in the Azle Municipal Court returned a not guilty verdict.
“A reasonable person would not find it offensive. The jury was out less than five minutes so obviously they agreed,” Estabrook said. “Thankfully I had truth on my side. Justice prevailed.”
Gagne said she is upset about the verdict but is relieved the trial is over.
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