A defense attorney for a Monrovia man accused of sexually assaulting five of his female students at a Duarte elementary school insisted that the girls lied about the alleged abuse when delivering his closing argument Wednesday.
Leonard Levine, one of two attorneys for former Beardslee Elementary School teacher Wade Bughman, told jurors Wednesday that his client never molested or assaulted any of his students and said the alleged victims made their stories up.
One of Bughman's accusers came forward more than a decade after the abuse and testified that the teacher raped her when she was 7-years-old. Levine said it was "physically impossible" for his client to have raped her without noticeably injuring her at the time.
"It could not have happened and it did not happen," Levine told a jury of six men and six women. "And he could not have done it because he is not a pedophile."
The defense called an expert witness who testified that Bughman was not a pedophile based on an interview he conducted with the teacher after he was arrested, Levine said. Prosecutor Debra Archuleta has said that assessment was unreliable because it was based on the self-reporting of Bughman himself who had reason to be dishonest in the interview.
Archuleta delivered her closing argument Tuesday and painted Bughman as a "practiced manipulator" who sought out his victims carefully based on whether they would be likely to report the abuse.
Levine repeatedly characterized the accusations of Bughman's accusers as "lies" and said his client was being punished for being a "friendly, goofy teacher who liked to joke around."
"And for that he is called a pedophile," Levine said.
Levine said another accuser was blaming Bughman for a different sexual assault she was the victim of at the time she came forward. And he said no witnesses ever testified that they saw the alleged abuse occur other than his client's accusers.
"Not one kid saw anything," he said.
Levine's closing argument will resume Thursday afternoon. Archuleta will have a chance to rebut before the case is turned over to the jury, likely before Friday.