GREENSBORO — A second-grade teacher at Lindley Elementary School testified Monday that a man on trial for charges of sexually abusing one of her students didn’t have the opportunity to commit the crime while she was the child’s teacher.
Randall “Randy” Lee Clawson, a former teacher at Lindley, faces multiple counts of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sex offense with a child, sexual acts with a student by a teacher, incident liberties with a child and sexual offense with a child by an adult.
The boy, now 11, testified in English last Wednesday that Clawson taught his English as a second language class, but Clawson would have the boy stay after class. The student said Clawson on several occasions forced him into a bathroom, locked the door, made him pull down his pants, touched him inappropriately and then made the student reciprocate. The boy said the abuse began when he was in first grade and continued until he was in third grade, when he decided to report what was happening.
The News & Record does not identify victims in sexual abuse cases.
On Monday afternoon, the sixth day of trial in Guilford County Superior Court, his second-grade teacher, Karen Sexton, told the jury that Clawson wouldn’t have had the opportunity to abuse the child when she was his teacher.
“I was very protective of my class,” Sexton said. “That’s the kind of teacher I am. I never noticed anything.”
Sexton said when the student was in her class, she and Clawson decided to start a joint English as a second language and guided reading program. Together Sexton and Clawson taught six students, including this child.
She said she never witnessed any problems between Clawson and the student.
“(He) seemed very comfortable with Mr. Clawson and excited to see Mr. Clawson and show him how he was improving,” Sexton told the jury.
The student last week had told a different story.
“I left the library and ran up the stairs,” the boy told the jury. “There were 20 steps and then a big hallway, but he was always behind me.”
The student said Clawson would corner him in the bathroom, and he would try to run, but Clawson “got him.”
“He told me if I told anybody he would do the same thing to my sister,” the boy said.
Both he and his little sister, then 7, were present in the courtroom Monday morning but left before the trial resumed.
Since the student’s testimony, the defense has tried to paint him as a boy who didn’t want to go to school, has a large imagination and even as a liar.
But the boy told the jury he doesn’t play cops and robbers, he doesn’t pretend to be any superheroes, and he doesn’t like to lie because he does not want to be in trouble.
He did tell the jury he rubbed paper on his forehead to convince his mother he had a fever, so he wouldn’t have to go to school.
During Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Thompson’s case, which concluded Monday, defense attorneys Locke Clifford and Daniel Harris repeatedly pointed out discrepancies in testimonies regarding what the student had told a counselor, medical examiners and investigators, including at one point that Clawson never touched him.
Greensboro Police Det. M.E. Nero told the jury Monday morning that a second student did tell police that he had seen Clawson and the boy alone in the hallway. She also said that the boy told his mother he didn’t tell police everything because he was embarrassed.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center social worker Cynthia Stewart testified Thursday that it is not unusual for children to disclose different pieces of information of traumatic events depending on their comfort level at the time.
The discrepancies from the state’s witnesses led Clifford to ask Judge Christopher Bragg on Monday morning to dismiss the charges against Clawson, focusing on testimony from the boy’s former principal, Aaron Woody.
“This case relies on the testimony of (the student), and Dr. Woody impeached him,” Clifford told the judge.
Woody testified last week that the bathroom doors at the school do not lock and that there is a school policy never to close the bathroom doors.
Bragg told Clifford the charges would not be dismissed.
Clifford and Harris have discrepancies of their own to address before the conclusion of the trial.
The defense attorneys have used a blueprint of the school that showed the second and third floors. Witnesses testified that the alleged sexual contact happened in the second-floor bathroom. What is unclear is what is actually the second floor.
The defense attorneys have been calling the second floor “the top floor” of the school and the first floor the “main floor.” The school also has a gym in the basement.
On Monday afternoon two teachers from Lindley corrected the attorneys from the witness stand, stating that the basement is called the gym floor, the main floor is called the second floor and the top floor is called the third floor.
The defense attorneys have been using photographs and diagrams of a third-floor bathroom throughout the trial.
Judge Bragg told the defense attorneys and the prosecution Monday afternoon that he plans to take the jurors to the school to look over the different areas mentioned in the trial. He cautioned both sides that there will be no discussion at the school.
That tour should take place this afternoon or Wednesday morning, Bragg said.
The trial broke for the evening at 5 p.m. Monday and is scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m. today with testimony from several more witnesses, including Clawson.