Last updated 4:11 p.m. - With comment from the school district
Jim Walters, the former Point Elementary principal facing a citation for lewd and indecent conduct, is not guilty, the judge in the case decided today.
In his judgement, Judge Joseph Murphy questions the veracity of the park ranger who originally accused Walters. (Read the full judgement as a PDF in the media section of this article.)
"This sole witness in this case did not provide clear, convincing and unrefuted testimony," Murphy said, adding later that he could not side with the City's case without the testimony of "an experienced, well-trained officer who presents consistent and credible evidence of an offense."
On March 16, the ranger wrote that he "observed subject Walters grab his genitals while talking to a man in a vehicle who later confessed to what was happening," he stated in the ticket.
Murphy said the wording in the summons is not enough to indicate Walters broke the law.
"If this court took the words of the summons as presented, the courts for the city of St. Louis would be inundated with cases brought against athletes for such behavior," Murphy said.
Walter's attorney, Neil Bruntrager, called the ruling a "vindication," saying, "This poor guy needs some closure.
In court last month, Brutrager presented surveillance video of the two Forest Park locations where the incident was supposed to take place. However, the videos show no evidence of lewd or indecent conduct or of any contact between Walters and a man in a white car, to whom Walters was accused of gesturing, according to the judge's report.
The video "clearly, convincingly and totally refutes the park ranger's testimony as well as his report narrative and deposition," Murphy said.
The Mehlville School District said today they would not comment on personell matters, but Superintendent Eric Knost said the school stands by its previous decisions.
The Mehlville school board voted unanimously to fire Walters in a closed meeting June 21. Superintendent Eric Knost placed the principal on paid administrative leave in March, pending a district investigation. He issued a letter to parents two months later saying Walters would not return to Point.
Walters had been the principal since 2007.
Retired Beasley Principal Jim Schibig took over for the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year.
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