Mark Chmura, the former Green Bay Packers tight end accused of sexually assaulting a former baby sitter, was acquitted of third-degree sexual assault and child enticement today.
Jurors deliberated for two hours and 15 minutes before reaching the verdict just before 10 p.m. ET. Chmura began to cry, his jaw trembling, as the first verdict was read. His head dropped slightly as the judge read the second innocent verdict.
The charges against Chmura carried a maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. He was a former Pro-Bowl player for the Packers who was about to try a comeback from a serious injury when he was charged last year. The Packers later released him.
"First of all, I'd like to thank my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, for giving me the strength to make it through this very difficult time for me and my family," Chmura said following the verdict. "I'd like to thank my wife, obviously, my legal team and my friends who've supported me here throughout this difficult time."
A teen who used to baby-sit for Chmura's two sons told police he pulled her into a bathroom during a post-prom party April 9 at his friend Robert Gessert's home. She claimed he pulled down her pants and had sex with her without her consent.
Lawyers Argued Back and Forth
The prosecutor and defense lawyers battled back and forth in closing arguments earlier in the day.
"No one can know the hell he has been living in since last April 10," Defense attorney Gerald Boyle said. "No one can know how embarrassed and ashamed he felt for something he thought was innocuous [that] turned into such a hellacious thing."
"I have never imagined that there would be a human being on the face of the Earth with the personal courage that this man had," Boyle added.
Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher said jurors should shift their focus from inconsistencies in the accuser's story and back to Chmura's conduct. He portrayed Chmura, and also his lawyer, as bullies.
Boyle contended Chmura's accuser was lying and made the story up because she disliked Chmura. Chmura did not testify.
Boyle closed by shouting, "Give Mark Chmura back his soul."
Chmura's accuser testified she disliked the former NFL star because he made suggestive remarks to her and had hit on her when she baby-sat his children, once giving her a $20 tip because she was cute. She also testified both she and Chmura were drunk at the party, which Gessert's daughter held after the Waukesha Catholic Memorial High School prom. A nurse who examined the teen later that day testified injuries Chmura's accuser suffered were consistent with sexual assault.
A nurse and a doctor specializing in sexual assault examinations testified for the defense that the injuries to the teen could have been caused by something else, such as wet clothes or an ill-fitting bathing suit. The teen had testified she borrowed a swim suit to go into a hot tub at the party. The nurse also testified she would have expected Chmura to have similar injuries. An examination the day after the party showed he had none.
Another teen at the party, Waukesha Catholic football player Michael Kleber, testified he warned Chmura's accuser not to go into the bathroom because Chmura was in there. Kleber also testified the teenager went into the bathroom willingly.
— ABCNEWS Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.