Mistrial in Child Sexual Assault case against ex-Texas Rangers pitcher John Wetteland

 

.jpg photo of former Texas Rangers pitcher
Former Texas Rangers pitcher John Wetteland appeared in a Denton County Court on Monday to respond to charges of three counts of aggravated assault against a child

Former Texas Rangers pitcher John Wetteland appeared in a Denton County Court on Monday to respond to charges

DENTON, TX  –  A Denton County judge on Friday declared a mistrial in the child sexual assault case against John Wetteland, a former Texas Rangers player who is accused of molesting a boy three times more than a decade ago.

The jury told the judge three times that it was split.  At one point, the judge said she heard loud arguing coming from the deliberation room.

Wetteland, who testified in his defense during the trial last week, faced three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child.  He played for the Rangers from 1997 to 2000, as well as for the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners, and is in the Rangers’ Hall of Fame.

At 4:40 p.m., the jury sent its third note to the judge.  It said it was deadlocked and some jurors were “unwilling to budge.”  The jurors asked how long they were expected to deliberate.  Some were concerned about child care.

Judge Lee Ann Breading had pressed the jury to keep trying to reach a verdict.  But after questioning the jury about 5 p.m., she declared a mistrial.

Wetteland, 56, faced 25 years to life in prison if convicted.  It was unclear Friday whether prosecutors would pursue a second trial.  Defense attorneys declined to comment.

Since Tuesday, jurors in 462nd District Court heard from the accuser, Wetteland and other witnesses.

According to authorities, Wetteland sexually assaulted the child three times between 2004 and 2006, starting when the child was 4 years old.  Wetteland pleaded not guilty and said the accuser’s account of sexual abuse is a lie.

According to the accuser’s mother, he first told her in 2016 — when he was 16 — that Wetteland raped him as a child.  She said she did not report the allegation to police.  In his testimony, the accuser said he did not want to report the abuse and wanted an apology from Wetteland, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.

The accuser testified on Tuesday.  He said he looked up to Wetteland and wanted to please him.  The first time Wetteland sexually abused him, he said, he was confused.  The abuse impacted him deeply into his teenage years, he testified, causing incontinence, suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

When the boy was 18, his mother testified, she told him to write a letter about the abuse and planned to send it to people connected with Wetteland.

On Wednesday, Argyle school district’s former chief of police read the letter to the jury. The letter, which the accuser wrote in Google Docs, detailed allegations that Wetteland sexually assaulted him in a shower.

According to prosecutor Lindsey Sheguit, the document was saved on the Argygle school Google account, and the school district’s monitoring system flagged it.  Employees discovered the letter, the school district’s chief technology officer testified Wednesday, and reported it to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

On cross examination from Derek Adame, one of Wetteland’s defense attorneys, the technology officer testified that the district could not know who wrote the letter, only that it was written on the accuser’s account.  Adame and defense attorney Caroline Simone argue the abuse allegations are not true and were possibly fabricated by a man named Chris.  Chris is not biologically related to the accuser but lived with him when the accuser was a teenager.

Three members of the Wetteland family testified that they also believe Chris instructed the accuser to write the letter, the Denton Record-Chronicle reported.  They described Chris as aggressive and jealous of Wetteland.

A grand jury indicted Wetteland, who lives in Trophy Club, in 2019. Bartonville police have said DFPS contacted the department about the case on Jan. 9, 2019.

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