Ohio woman convicted of assault in classroom brawl
CINCINNATI (AP) — A jury on Friday convicted an Ohio woman of assault but acquitted her of trespassing in a high school classroom brawl involving her daughter and another teen accused of bullying the girl.
Jurors reached that unanimous verdict after three days of testimony in the trial of Precious Allen, who had pleaded not guilty in the Feb. 7 fracas involving her daughter and a 15-year-old girl at Withrow High School in Cincinnati.
Judge Melissa Powers sentenced Allen, 31, to probation, but said she could face up to six months in jail if she violates the terms. If convicted on both counts, Allen could have faced a year of jail time.
In finding Allen guilty of assault, jurors agreed with prosecutors that she knowingly caused or helped cause harm to the 15-year-old. In rejecting the trespassing charge, jurors sided with defense attorneys that Allen likely did not go to the school that day intending to commit an assault.
When she testified earlier Friday, Allen tearfully told jurors that the 15-year-old girl had been bullying her daughter and started the fight by cursing at her, calling her names and shoving her face with an open hand, knocking her down.
“I was shocked when she did it and I fell back,” Allen said. Before she knew it, her daughter and the other teen were fighting, she said.
She said she immediately yanked her daughter away and took her into the hallway, after which the other teen “burst through then swinging.”
“She was in a rage,” she said.
Allen’s daughter testified that she didn’t want to get in a fight that day but that she hit the 15-year-old girl because the teen had hit her mother first.
The other teen testified Thursday that Allen’s daughter is the one who hit her first, and that Allen soon joined the fray.
In closing arguments, prosecutor Eric Cook criticized Allen’s statements that she was only at the school to withdraw her daughter from classes and pick up her things.
“This parent acted like a child. She confronted a child half her age,” Cook said. “Each step she had a chance to act like an adult and step back.”
Defense attorney Eric Deters told jurors that it makes no sense that Allen would want to fight the 15-year-old that day, since she was in a hurry to get to work, was wearing scrubs for her job as a nurse’s aide and didn’t even know the other teen was in the classroom.
Deters also said it defies logic that Allen would plan to cause a fight at a public school with surveillance cameras and in front of a teacher and students, and where a police officer always is nearby.
“Precious is not some crazy parent,” he said. “Please find her not guilty. She’s been through a lot.”
In three days of testimony, Allen and the six other witnesses offered differing accounts of the fight.
Two teenagers testified for the prosecution on Thursday, painting Allen and her daughter as the instigators. But under cross-examination, Deters pointed out that their own handwritten statements after the brawl said that the 15-year-old hit Allen first.
A police officer testified that now-missing surveillance video of part of the fight showed Allen grabbing the 15-year-old and slamming her to the ground. The teacher who was in the hallway at the time and the two teenage witnesses said they never saw that.
Deters suggested the surveillance video was deleted intentionally because it showed that the alleged victim was the aggressor. Allen has filed a still-pending federal lawsuit against police and the school over the missing video.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.