Mistrial declared in dragging case

The judge in the assault case of two San Antonio-based boot camp officials accused of dragging a teen behind a van in Banquete declared a mistrial Friday after the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

The jury deliberated more than 13 hours over two days and sent out about a dozen notes, many saying they were split but leaning toward not guilty verdicts.

The final vote was 9-3 in favor of not guilty for Pastor Charles Flowers, 47, and 11 -1 in favor of a not guilty verdict for Stephanie Bassitt, 21.

Flowers, who founded Love Demonstrated Ministries, International with his wife, and Bassitt, a former staff member, were accused of using a rope to tie 15-year-old Siobahn McClintock to a van on June 12 and dragging her behind it.

If convicted of the Class A misdemeanor, they faced as much as a year in county jail and up to a $4,000 fine.

Prosecutor Michael Gordon said District Attorney Carlos Valdez would decide whether to retry the case. Gordon said from talking with the jury it seemed some were hung up on when the teen received her injuries.

Flowers’ lead attorney, Jimmy Parks, said the jury also asked to meet with the pastor and his wife after the judge’s decision, a rare occurrence. One juror who voted for acquittals said she would send her own daughter to the boot camp, Parks said.

The two originally were charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony. But 347th District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos lowered the felony charges to simple assault on Monday after the defense argued the van and rope could not be considered deadly weapons.

During the trial, defense attorneys proposed the Floresville teen, now 16, had intentionally injured herself and lied about the dragging incident. They also accused the girl’s mother of trying to profit from the situation by suing both defendants, Flowers’ church and boot camp along with helping another witness write a book about the case.

The prosecution admitted the teen was troubled but said it was Flowers and Bassitt who went beyond discipline with a brutal and criminal act.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday May 3, 2008.
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