By Lisa Flaugh, Brooklyn News Service
A former teacher at a Ditmas Park elementary school was found not guilty on all charges in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Friday after being accused of forcibly touching five girls.
Omil Carrasquillo, 38, waited solemnly to hear the jury’s verdict as his family, present for every court date he’d had, sat together on one bench in the courtroom. As the jury foreperson continued to respond “not guilty” to each charge as it was called out, Carrasquillo began to weep, holding a tissue up to his face and trying to remain silent. His relatives whispered to each other. “Oh my God,” one said as she leaned on another, and began to cry as well.
After Justice Debora Dowling dismissed the jury and told Carrasquillo he was free to leave, the family gathered outside the courtroom and Carrasquillo proclaimed through his tears, “This is justice! This is justice!” The family came together for a group hug, crying. They eventually looked up and found defense attorney Anthony LaPinta and someone said, “get in here,” and invited him in for the hug as well.
Carrasquillo, his family, and LaPinta declined to comment. The attorney said it was much too emotional a moment to be interviewed.
“I am thrilled about Mr. Carrasquillo’s acquittal and hope that he and his family can put this nightmare behind them,” said LaPinta in an email.
None of the relatives of the five girls whom prosecutors said were victims of the defendant was present in the courtroom when the verdict was delivered.
Before the trial began on Monday, Carrasquillo had considered a deal from prosecutors to plead guilty and accept a five-year prison sentence. But as he stood before the judge, a family member yelled out, “The truth will prevail!”
As reported earlier, Carrasquillo turned to the judge and said, “I withdraw that plea. I’m not guilty … I’m innocent.”
Carrasquillo was arrested Sept. 24, 2014, on charges that he forcibly touched five girls ages 8 to 11 starting in November 2012 at PS 249, also called the Caton School, at 18 Marlborough Rd.
He faced charges of sexual abuse and child endangerment; if convicted, he could have been sentenced to up to 3 to 7 years in prison for each child abused.
According to one girl’s testimony, Carrasquillo touched her private areas in a way that made her feel “really weird.”
In his testimony, Carrasquillo said that he would hug his students, give them high fives and pat them.
“Teachers can be friendly with students,” Carrasquillo testified on Monday. He told a detective in 2014 that he touches “students in a positive way,” also giving them nicknames like “Planet X” “Baby” and “Grandpa.”
“I never, ever, ever touched a child in an inappropriate way,” Carrasquillo said. “That’s disgusting.” He said that students would also hug him from behind and occasionally jump on his back.
Carrasquillo said he resigned from his job after the arrest rather than continue to receive his salary by reporting to a reassignment office.
“I was disgusted, disgusted with the education system,” he testified.
This story is a collaboration with Brooklyn News Service.