by: Mark Becker Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The fate of a former Iredell County teacher is in the hands of a jury.
Jurors began deliberations in the sex assault trial of John “Tom” Patterson after closing arguments Thursday afternoon.
Patterson is facing 173 counts of sexual assault for allegedly fondling five students at Mt. Mourne Elementary while he was a teacher there in the 1970s and 80s.
Patterson had denied the allegations when he took the stand Wednesday, and on Thursday, the prosecutor Crystal Beale challenged him on the denial.
“The fact is, you had been doing it for years,” she said.
“No I had not,” Patterson replied, “ I did not molest any boys.”
Patterson’s case depends largely on whether the jury believed his testimony and his attorney, William Willis, told the jury they should believe him.
“Tom looked you in the eye and told you he didn’t do it," Willis said. "There’s doubt at every turn in this case.”
But Beale would have the last word, and she told jurors that the victims, who are now adults, were telling the truth, while Patterson was lying.
“Don’t let that man creep back into their lives. He is guilty of each and every count. Find him guilty,” she said.
Read our past coverage:
March 1, 2013: Sheriff's Office searches home of accused former teacher