A Delaware Superior Court jury of nine women and three men found Edward “Scott” Husbands not guilty on three counts of unlawful sexual contact with young girls.
Husbands, a former assistant principal at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School, was accused by three girls of unlawfully touching them. The two-day trial culminated in a lengthy deliberation process by the jury that started around 3 p.m. Nov. 2 . They later retired for the night and resumed Nov. 3, reaching a unanimous verdict at 11:15 a.m. Nov. 3.
In the second day of testimony Nov. 2, Husbands took the stand to vehemently deny charges leveled against him.
Husbands of Milton was on trial for unlawfully touching three girls during sleepovers his daughter hosted at their home. Prosecutors said Husbands lay on air mattresses with the girls and touched their legs and genitals. Husbands' defense attorney, Stephen Welsh, has said that the case is part of a custody battle between Husbands and his estranged wife, Kim, who also took the stand to testify. Husbands, 46, had also been charged with offensive touching, but that charge was dropped on the second day of the trial for lack of evidence.
Husbands' testimony began by describing a marriage that had gone off the rails. He said for the last 12 years of their marriage, he and Kim had gone out together a total of maybe 10 times. Husbands said he had conversations with his wife about her drinking, and he once confronted her over possible infidelities. He said they talked about divorce several times, with Kim offering to take the kids while he took their home in Milton. Husbands said he flat-out refused that offer.
"I was going to be a part of my kids' lives," he said.
The situation came to a head during their son's baseball tournament in New Jersey in June 14, 2015. After a game, Husbands said the family went out for dinner with some of the other team families. He said Kim was drinking, and at 9:15 p.m., he and the kids went back to their hotel to sleep. Husbands said his wife decided to stay out, eventually coming back to the hotel at 1:35 a.m. after drinking, driving and texting.
After a confrontation, Husbands said his wife told him she had cheated once, and at that point, the marriage was over. On June 23, Husbands said he was notified the police wanted to question him about unlawful sexual contact charges. A week after that, he said, he was charged, and Kim sought an emergency custody order from Delaware Family Court.
Husbands testified the mother of one of the accusers was a regular drinking buddy with Kim, an accusation the mother, whose name has been withheld to protect the identity of the child victim, and Kim both denied during rebuttal testimony. Husbands said the mothers of two other accusers were also friends with Kim. He said all three girls who testified against him were lying and that he never touched them or slept in the same beds with them. He said when the girls would sleep over, they would typically sleep in the downstairs living room, and that Kim would usually sleep in a recliner in that room, while he slept in a bedroom.
Husbands' 11-year-old daughter testified that Kim and her aunt, Kathy Bullock, had coached her on what to say to workers at the Child Advocacy Center. However, prosecutor Diane Dunn said Husbands' daughter never brought up being coached by her mother and aunt to either advocacy center personnel or prosecutors. Dunn said it wasn't until a recent weekend with her father that Husbands' daughter talked about being coached on what to say. Dunn's questioning insinuated that Husbands had been the one doing the coaching.
"You don't want anything bad to happen to your dad, do you?" she asked Husbands' daughter, who then began weeping.
During his testimony, Husbands denied he ever coached his daughter.
"I don't teach my kids to lie," he said.
On cross-examination, Husbands admitted he had lain on the air mattresses, but Husbands said this was only when family members came over.
Husbands continued to insist that he was being railroaded as part of a custody fight with his ex-wife.
"I shouldn't be here," he said. "I didn't do these crimes. I would never touch a girl under a blanket. That's disgusting."
Testifying as a rebuttal witness, Kim said she had been thinking of divorcing Husbands for two years, but she stayed with him for the kids. She said she and Husbands had stopped getting along.
"I didn't want to be married to him anymore," Kim said.
She acknowledged having been unfaithful, but she denied that she collaborated with the other accusers or coached her daughter.
"I would never do that to her," Kim said.
She said it was her intention to have joint custody of the kids, but she wanted to go to Family Court to figure out how to work out arrangements. Kim said she brought up allegations against Husbands in an interview with Delaware Department of Family Services, but not with the police.
Bullock, Kim's sister-in-law, firmly denied she had conspired with Kim to make up a story about Husbands. When asked if she helped coach Husbands' daughter, Bullock became animated and replied, "No." When asked by Welsh if Husbands' daughter was lying, Bullock said, "Absolutely."
Contrary to the defense's notion they were drinking buddies, one witness said she and Kim had been friends many years ago and then drifted apart until very recently, when their daughters became friends.
"My heart is broken for my daughter," she said.
Bodenweiser removed from courtroom
The second day of the trial got off to a bizarre start, that began when a charge of offensive touching against Husbands was dropped. Then Bradley addressed a confrontation at the end of the first day's testimony involving former state Senate candidate Eric Bodenweiser.
Bodenweiser had shown up on Day 1 to support Husbands. Before proceedings began, Bodenweiser wished Husbands luck and was in and out of the courtroom all day. As the testimony of Husbands' accusers ended, Bodenweiser stood up and said something to a relative of one of the accusers. What Bodenweiser said was unclear, although Judge Bradley later referred to the words "lying bitches." When he came into the courtroom for Day 2 of testimony, Bodenweiser was immediately escorted out of the room and did not return. Bradley asked two jurors if they had heard Bodenweiser's remarks, The jurors said they caught some of what Bodenweiser had said, but that it would not affect their ability to render a verdict.
Bodenweiser faced trial on charges of child sexual abuse in May 2014. After winning the state Republican primary for the 19th Senate District seat, Bodenweiser was accused of having raped a man years earlier, when the victim was 11. The case ended in a mistrial and Bodenweiser later pleaded no contest to a lesser offense of third-degree unlawful sexual contact and was given probation. He has since been working with The Shepherd's Office ministry in Georgetown.
Ed: Note: A story on the Edward Husbands trial should have reported former state Senate candidate Eric Bodenweiser pleaded no contest to charges of third-degree unlawful sexual contact. He did not plead guilty to those charges.