Lawyers make closing arguments in Zebulon headmaster sexual harassment trial

September 27, 2013 2:18:50 PM PDT
Lawyers made their closing arguments Friday in the trial of former East Wake Academy headmaster Brandon Smith.

The former administrator at the Zebulon charter school is accused of sexually harassing two women who work there. Smith was fired in March 2012 after the women made the allegations. He faces two counts of sexual battery and assault on a female.

One of the alleged victims testified that he pulled down the back of her pants and asked to look at a tattoo. The other said he hugged her and pressed his clothed erection against her crotch.

Smith's attorneys have worked to discredit the women - saying their stories have changed. They also have tried to play down the testimony of other witnesses who testified Smith made inappropriate sexual comments to them.

In their closing arguments Friday, they told jurors that creepy words don't equal a crime. They also challenged statements from the victims who said they were afraid to come forward sooner for fear of losing their jobs.

"Each one of these alleged victims said, I was afraid because I was afraid I was going to lose my job. Other people did. You know what? Where are those people? Could the state have brought one person who said, I lost my job because I complained?" asked attorney Robert Lane.

But prosecutor Melanie Shekita told jurors Smith is guilty of more than just creepy words.

"You cannot defend the defendant on words alone. But those words along with unwanted touching, ladies and gentlemen, should show you beyond a reasonable doubt, that he is guilty of sexual battery," she said.

Soon after the women's accusations about his alleged conduct were made public, Smith sued them in civil court saying he was being slandered. That case was dismissed. A counter suit filed by the women against Smith and the school's board is still pending.

The jury will resume deliberations on Monday.

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