Cedar Rapids Weather
Not Guilty Verdict in Iowa City Mandatory Reporter Trial
By Vanessa Miller, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa — After deliberating for just two hours Friday, a six-member jury found Susan Freeman-Murdah not guilty in the state’s first trial of a mandatory reporter accused of failing to report child abuse or neglect.
The verdict was a sealed verdict, meaning the jury handed the signed forms to the judge, who then contacted the attorneys by phone.
Freeman-Murdah, 44, was arrested Feb. 1 on suspicion of failure to report after police said the mother of a child who attends the center she oversees came to her in December with a report that a teacher there had taught her 3-year-old daughter how to kiss “passionately.” The mother, who The Gazette is not naming to protect the identity of her daughter, also said her daughter came home with her underwear on inside out and with pain and a rash in her private area.
Freeman-Murdah testified during her trial this week that she never believed the report of abuse and never suspected the accused teacher assaulted the child or had an opportunity to assault her.
Prosecutors argued that Freeman-Murdah, as a mandatory reporter, should have taken the report seriously and contacted the Department of Human Services. Assistant County Attorney Meredith Rich-Chappell said the child had symptoms consistent with sexual abuse, and an Iowa City detective testified that the department is continuing to investigate whether someone else abused the child.
Officials with the Iowa Department of Human Services have told KCRG.com that they are watching the case closely as they believe it’s the first time a mandatory reporter has been arrested on suspicion of failing to report in Iowa.
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