Jury finds UI prof. guilty of assault
University of Iowa assistant professor Toshiki Itoh was found guilty Tuesday on two counts of assault with intent to cause bodily injury, stemming from incidents in which he injured his then-research assistant.
But after nine hours of deliberation, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on a third-degree sexual abuse charge.
Jury member Nick Schaier, 27, said the sexual-abuse charge came down to a 10-2 split.
“I just was not convinced the state had put forth enough evidence,” he said. “The other two [charges] were pretty cut-and-dried.”
The other juror who voted against conviction agreed.
While the jury deliberated, Itoh’s wife, Yuka Itoh, sobbed in the courtroom as she waited for the verdict, occasionally drying her tears with a red handkerchief. Some of the Itohs’ friends and family attempted to comfort her while Itoh stood in front of them, staring toward the back of the room.
Itoh was charged in September 2008 with two counts of assault with intent to cause bodily injury and one count of third-degree sexual abuse after his former research assistant called UI police on July 10, 2008.
Jury members said the trial was very exhausting, and although they were unable to come to a verdict on the third-degree sexual-abuse charge, everyone’s opinions were respected.
The jury foreman, Marcia Loan, said the jury was very conscientious and wanted to do what was best.
“I think we agree it was a very fair and honest evaluation,” she said. “We went over every single detail.”
Throughout deliberation, several jury members agreed Itoh’s guilt on the assault charges hinged on photographic evidence presented by the prosecution.
“The photographs were huge,” said juror Paul Julius. “And not only showed there had been abuse, but showed there had been abuse on multiple occasions.”
Loan also said it was hard to deny the photographic evidence.
Itoh is on paid leave with an annual salary of $93,000.
UI spokesman Tom Moore said the university doesn’t have a specific policy regarding the termination of employees charged with a crime. The school makes decisions on a case-by-case basis, he said, and he couldn’t comment specifically on what would happen to a person with these charges.
Because of the hung jury, the state has the choice of dropping the third-degree sexual-abuse charge or retrying the case.
Prosecuting attorney Elizabeth Beglin said if the alleged victim agrees to go through the trial process a second time, the state will “absolutely” move forward on a retrial.
Beglin said she was happy with the verdict on the physical assault charges, but very disappointed with the verdict on sexual abuse.
Defense attorney Patricia Kamath also said she was disappointed by the outcome, and she plans to file an appeal on the assault charges today.
“When you’ve gone through seven days of trial work, and the ultimate issue isn’t resolved, you always feel a little burned out,” she said, following Itoh and his family out of the courtroom.
Kamath said she is unsure whether she will represent Itoh in the appeal, because she plans to retire and has not discussed the prospect with Itoh.
Assault with intent to cause bodily injury is a serious misdemeanor punishable by a minimum fine of $315 and a maximum of one year in prison. Third-degree sexual abuse is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Itoh is on court supervision, and a sentencing date is expected to be set within the next 30 days.
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