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Monrovia Man Acquitted on All Counts in School Sexual Abuse Trial

A jury found Wade Joseph Bughman not guilty of nine sexual abuse counts, ending a month-long trial for the former Beardslee Elementary School teacher.

A jury acquitted a Monrovia man of nine counts of sexual abuse Friday after he was accused of rape and molestation by five former Duarte elementary school students.

Wade Joseph Bughman whispered "thank you" to his two attorneys after Superior Court Judge Dorothy Shubin read the not guilty verdicts on each of the nine charged counts of sexual abuse at 11 a.m. Friday.

"I am so thankful and relieved, after two-and-a-half years, to hear 'not guilty' next to crimes I did not commit," Bughman said in an interview outside the courtroom.

Leonard Levine, one of Bughman's two attorneys, said that he was "thrilled" with the verdict.

"We believe an innocent man has been exonerated," Levine said.

Levine maintained in court that the five girls who accused Bughman of crimes including forcible rape and sexual penetration with a foreign object were lying. He said after the verdict that his client passed several polygraph tests that were inadmissible in court.

"If he didn't do it, either they lied about it or someone else did it," Levine said.

Bughman was arrested in June of 2010 after a student accused him of sexual misconduct in a school survey.

The jury began deliberations on Nov. 29 and reached a verdict Friday morning after an alternate juror took the place of an ill juror on Thursday. The trial began on Oct. 16.

Bughman was also found not guilty of four lesser counts of battery related to the alleged abuse.

A family member of one of the alleged victims was visibly upset outside the courtroom and was led away before Bughman exited. Family members of the alleged victims, seated on the right side of the courtroom gallery, cried quietly as each verdict was read. Bughman's friends and family, seated on the left side, also visibly wept.

Deputy District Attorney Debra Archuleta said that she was "shocked" by the verdict.

"Frankly I am shocked," Archuleta said. "We had an abundance of evidence. We had [evidence of] 15 years of sexual abuse with girls who didn't even know each other."

"It frightens me that he can potentially be back in a classroom with children knowing what we know," she added.

Bughman said he was unsure if he would return to teaching.

"I don't know what the future holds for me but now that I'm free I look forward to figuring that out," he said.

Jeff December 15, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Mr. Smith, I would be interested to know where you get your facts. First, our legal system says that a person is innocent until proven guilty. There is no trial that ever delivers a verdict of “innocent” in the United States. This is due in part to the fact that the accused is already innocent from the start, unless proven otherwise. Second, there were no statements in the trial that support any of your claims in any way, shape, or form. Moreover, the jury had the option of convicting on three lesser misdemeanor charges of battery, which could have been validated even if he had simply been shown to lightly poke a girl in the elbow in a way that she did not want. This jury chose to declare him not guilty even on these lesser charges, based on the evidence and their careful deliberations. What are your charges based on? Did you ever witness him doing something inappropriate? Mr. Bughman was known for almost 20 years as a beloved, safe, caring, and even favorite teacher. In fact, in spite of herself, the prosecutor even referred to him as “the legendary Mr. Bughman” based on the opinion of many. She then tried to paint him as leading a double-life: legendary and evil. Obviously, she failed. Please do not make statements claiming wrongdoing unless you can substantiate them with first-hand information or data. Otherwise, statements like yours simply constitute slander and libel.
Jeff December 15, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Ms. Montgomery, Please re-read my comments above, which apparently you did not read thoroughly. Then read the response by "Scott" below. You and I actually agree that revenge is futile. As for Mr. Bughman's case deriving from "beyond a shadow of doubt," which would infer that he was "really guilty but just didn't get caught," I can tell you that this was not the case here. The complaining witnesses’ allegations were specious, untenable, and less feasible than if they had claimed Mr. Bughman turned them into fish and locked them in an aquarium. There was no shadow of doubt regarding his innocence.
Helena Coche December 18, 2012 at 09:45 AM
Excellent reply from Scott. Very valid intelligent reasoning and and plausible explanations. I agree with what you wrote: "... there needs to be a specific application in place so that in a case like this, the false accusers fear the consequences..." I think schools and other public venues where adults are in charge of children, definitely need a safety net to protect both parties. Perhaps installing (very obvious) surveillance cameras in all the rooms where adults and minors interact, as well as in vulnerable areas, like the auditoriums, hallways, etc...making it well known that security is everywhere and everyone is constantly being monitored. I think that would end allegations of misconduct, cries of being molested...as well as put a huge crimp for adults- in careers and positions who are in charge of minors and vulnerable young children- to commit evil deeds against children left in their charge. Of course, this could never work 100% because of areas such as bathrooms which never should be monitored, where some pervert may try and do their evil deeds there, or a troubled minor could also claim the same. Hopefully, knowing that "big brother" is watching all the public areas, this surely would cut down on a lot of these molestations that happen constantly....teachers...coaches...youth group leaders...ministers/pastors....day care centers... Continued...
Helena Coche December 18, 2012 at 09:49 AM
...Jeff also made excellent comments with explanations and summations of what went down, and how vulnerable adults are in an authoritative position, as are children. I can't believe that security monitoring systems haven't been implemented decades ago! Especially for younger and more vulnerable children, who are preyed upon by adults they are intrusted to for guidance and care. :(
Helena Coche December 18, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Yes indeed it did, and the truth showed Wade Bughman to be found NOT GUILTY!! Hopefully Maria, you are right about not getting away with things, and maybe the accusers will do the right thing and tell the truth. You know the saying "The Truth Shall Set You Free." Justice prevailed. :)

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