Harassment charges resolved against former special education teacher

A district judge chose to resolve 73-year-old David Morton’s case through a not guilty filing on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. (WJAR)

The trial of a former special education teacher who was accused of inappropriately touching a student was over before it even started.

A district judge chose to resolve 73-year-old David Morton’s case through a not guilty filing.

Morton was previously charged with misdemeanor simple assault.

A 13-year-old female student accused Morton of touching her buttocks at the Pawtucket Learning Academy in 2017. The student was in a school hallway and was being carried on the back of another female student when she said Morton came by, told her to get off and slapped her rear end.

”All he did was -- the student was on another student's back. They were pinwheeling around. They were ignoring his commands to stop and for her to get off the victim -- the named victim -- to get off the other student's back. And as they came toward him, all he did was put his hand up to stop them from colliding with him. That's all he did. He did his job. I don't think there's any other way of looking at it,” said attorney Kevin Bristow, who represents Morton.

NBC 10 News asked Bristow if client touched the student’s behind when he raised his hand to block the student. Bristow replied, “His recollection is that he touched the base of her lower back and that's where he intended to, and that's where he put his hand and it was to protect himself.”

Morton resigned from the Pawtucket Learning Academy shortly after he was placed on paid leave in April 2017.

Bristow and prosecutors were prepared to go to trial Tuesday but the judge ruled to proceed with a not guilty filing, stating that the facts of the case were peculiar and pursuing a trial would require children to testify. The filling allows Morton to maintain his innocence, and, if he stays out of trouble for a year, the case is dismissed.

The student who alleged that she was touched by Morton is also involved in an ongoing $3.5 million federal lawsuit with the Pawtucket School Department. She was raped by a student in a school bathroom in 2016.

NBC 10 contacted the Pawtucket School Department for comment on the Morton case but hasn’t heard back.

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