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SoCalHoops Jurisprudence News

Russell Otis Acquited, Found Innocent
Of All Charges--(Apr. 23, 2001)

Russell Otis, former head coach at Compton Dominguez who was charged last fall with two separate felony counts of forcible sodomy, simple sodomy and oral copulation with a 17-year old former player and a single misdemeanor count of child molestation, was acquitted today of all charges, ending a three week jury trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Compton.   The jury, which began deliberations in the case this morning following the conclusion of final arguments last Friday, came back with their verdicts at approximately 4:30 p.m.    Otis was found "not guilty" on all charges. 

In an exclusive interview tonight with Otis' attorney, Leonard Levine of Century City,  he told SoCalHoops that the jury, after "polling them" (e.g., a process of interviewing jurors following a verdict)   did not find that the evidence submitted by the prosecutors was at all believeable or credible.    "We spoke with all the jurors following the verdict and they were not persauded by the prosecution's case," Levine told us.   "They just did not believe anything which the prosecution witnesses said."

"Otis is very angry that he's had to go through this ordeal,"  Levine said, "but he's relieved that it's over now and he can get on with the rest of his life."  Levine also noted that   "The expert testimony we presented clearly demonstrated that the story told by the alleged victim was just physically impossible, and there were numerous conflicts and contradictions in the prosecution's case.  Thank goodness for the jury system,"   Levine remarked, "because this was definitely the right verdict."    

Levine also noted that the jury, which included seven blacks, four whites and one Hispanic, among them a 29-year veteran elementary school teacher, a social worker, an IRS collections employee and a juror whose son is on death row for murder,  was not at all confused by the evidence. "Our biggest concern was that the jury might 'hang' and be unable to reach a decision," Levine said.   "But after less than hours, they returned verdicts, which was very quick.   When the verdicts were read, jurors were crying,  Otis had many friends and family as well in the courtroom, and it was a very emotional scene,"  Otis said. "It's just a tragedy that this man's reputation has been tarnished by something that never happened."

"From the beginning this was a case which was not only improbable, it was just unbelievable,"  Levine said.   "All the evidence we produced overwhelmingly supported Otis. This was just a case which should never have been brought.  We proved that the prosecution witnesses were either lying, or that what they said just didn't happen.  We produced testimony from more than 20 witnesses, all of who demonstrated that the things this boy alleged never happened.  We could have had 60 witnesses say the same things about this man's character, but in the end that wasn't necessary. The jury did the right thing," Levine said.  "It was a difficult case, but in the end, the right verdict was reached."

Otis, who attended Dominguez as a player under former coach Ernie Carr originally began coaching at Dominguez High in 1987.   This past February, Otis was fired by the Compton school district after being placed on administrative leave following his arrest.  His plans for the future are still up in the air, but there has been talk that he will attempt to get a college coaching job.  He has coached several All-Americans at Dominguez, took the Dons to three state titles, and last year won the mythical high school "National Championship."

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