Chmura Acquitted of Sex Assault Charges

W A U K E S H A, Wis., Feb. 3, 2001 -- Mark Chmura, the former Green Bay Packerstight end accused of sexually assaulting a former baby sitter, wasacquitted of third-degree sexual assault and child enticementtoday.

Jurors deliberated for two hours and 15 minutes before reaching the verdict just before 10 p.m. ET. Chmura began to cry, his jawtrembling, as the first verdict was read. His head dropped slightlyas the judge read the second innocent verdict.

The charges against Chmura carried a maximum sentence of up to40 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 hepulled her into a bathroom during a post-prom party April 9 athis friend Robert Gessert's home. She claimed he pulled down herpants and had sex with her without her consent.

Lawyers Argued Back and Forth

The prosecutor and defense lawyers battled back and forth inclosing 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 shouldshift their focus from inconsistencies in the accuser's story andback to Chmura's conduct. He portrayed Chmura, and also his lawyer,as bullies.

Boyle contended Chmura's accuser waslying and made the story up because she disliked Chmura. Chmura didnot testify.

Boyle closed by shouting, "Give Mark Chmura back his soul."

Chmura's accuser testified she disliked the former NFL starbecause he made suggestive remarks to her and had hit on her whenshe baby-sat his children, once giving her a $20 tip because shewas cute. She also testified both she and Chmura were drunk at theparty, which Gessert's daughter held after the Waukesha CatholicMemorial High School prom. A nurse who examined the teen later thatday testified injuries Chmura's accuser suffered were consistentwith sexual assault.

A nurse and a doctor specializing in sexual assault examinationstestified for the defense that the injuries to the teen could havebeen caused by something else, such as wet clothes or an ill-fitting bathing suit. The teen had testified she borrowed a swimsuit to go into a hot tub at the party. The nurse also testifiedshe would have expected Chmura to have similar injuries. Anexamination the day after the party showed he had none.

Another teen at the party, Waukesha Catholic football playerMichael Kleber, testified he warned Chmura's accuser not to go intothe bathroom because Chmura was in there. Kleber also testified theteenager went into the bathroom willingly.

— ABCNEWS Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.