A jury acquitted a former Cloverdale Middle School special education teacher accused of injuring a student in January 2008 late Friday.
The jury heard three days' worth of testimony and deliberated for over six hours before finding Scott W. Porter, 32, not guilty on counts of Class D felony battery resulting in bodily injury and criminal recklessness and Class A misdemeanor battery resulting in bodily injury.
Jury members deliberated well into the night, returning the verdict around 10 p.m.
Porter, who broke down in tears after the verdict was read, called the verdict "nothing short of a miracle."
"I really believe God had a lot to do with it," he said. "I was really expecting a hung jury. The trial went so bad ... I don't like to call people liars, but police officers got on the stand and didn't tell things the way they happened, and the kids they had testify were completely and utterly confused. My attorney had to keep objecting to things, and there was evidence we had that the judge wouldn't allow to be heard."
Porter's case began after one of his students, 15-year-old Jordan Mundy, accused Porter of grabbing him by the shirt, pushing him up against a blackboard, wrestling him to the ground and breaking Mundy's index finger. Court documents said Mundy also told police Porter had put him in a headlock and struck him in the ribs.
A warrant for Porter's arrest was issued Jan. 24, 2008.
Porter's attorney, Jeffrey Boggess, said he had "no complaints" about the verdict.
"I felt like it was a just result," he said. "The state's investigators were very well-meaning, but very over their heads. The investigator kind of got hooked into this boy's story."
Deputy Prosecutor Justin Long said he was not surprised by the verdict.
"We had a bunch of child witnesses, and that made it a very hard case to prove," he said. "The jury made their decision and we have to respect that. We may not agree with it, but we have to respect it."
Boggess said as the case unfolded, witnesses recanted testimony and other evidence suggesting Mundy may have been exaggerating his claims came to light, but the prosecution never took any of those things into consideration.
"The story really never made much sense," Boggess said. "(Mundy) said he was slammed against a blackboard, put in a headlock and wrested to the ground, yet he had no bruises, no scrapes, no marks. He had a splint put on his finger and was given Tylenol."
Porter, who denied all the allegations from the beginning, was initially placed on paid administrative leave by Cloverdale Community Schools, but resigned shortly after the allegations surfaced. He had been a teacher at Cloverdale for eight years.
Porter said he did not feel vindicated by his acquittal, but that he also wasn't angry anymore about what had happened.
"I guess all things happen for a reason, and God doesn't give you anything you can't handle," he said. "All I had was my story -- the truth -- against the stories of police officers, administrators and kids. The jury believed my story against all the others ... I'm glad they could see what the truth was."
Porter has been teaching special education classes in Mooresville since March.
"This really has led me to bigger and better things in the long run," Porter said. "I've been living with this every day for over a year, and now it's gone, it's over with, it's all in the past. That hasn't really sunk in yet."
Porter said he holds no ill will toward the boy who leveled the accusations at him.
"I still think about him everyday," he said. "I know he's had some other problems since this happened, and I kind of feel bad for him."