Dwain Pellebon, a former University of Oklahoma social work professor, was acquitted of his sexual abuse charges. Pellebon was charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse in December 2011 involving multiple victims, primarily children. His trial lasted ten days, and on November 1, he was acquitted on all charges, including three counts of child sexual abuse and six counts of lewd/indecent solicitations to children.
In December of 2011, shortly after he was charged with these crimes, Pellebon resigned from his position as a professor at OU. Prior to these charges, Pellebon was also contracted by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to train and teach other social workers about child abuse. The prosecution claimed that Pellebon used his position of trust and authority to commit these acts.
When asked about the charges against him, Pellebon should have stayed silent. As criminal defense attorneys, this is one of the most important things we can encourage our clients to do. You cannot talk your way out of criminal charges, so usually it is better just to stay silent, rather than risk further incriminating yourself. Unfortunately, records show, Pellebon made statements such as “I like to hug, kiss, cuddle and stroke young girls [I’m] close to.” He also admitted to police that he battled with watching pornography, and at one point, even child pornography.
Even despite statements like that, Pellebon was still ultimately acquitted of his charges, but how? One criminal defense attorney commenting on this case noted that there is a huge difference between what seems to be true and what can actually be proven as true. Most of the allegations against Pellebon involved acts like stroking girls’ hair, hugging them, and things of that nature. The prosecution was unable to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that those actions were anything more than affection.
Pellebon may very well have scared some young girls and their parents with his affection, but being affectionate is not a crime. This is why he was ultimately acquitted on all nine counts of sexual abuse. Anyone facing a sex crime can learn something from this case. The defendant here was facing nine felony counts of sexual abuse, and yet his skilled defense team was able to use witness testimony that was supposed to condemn him to actually vindicate him.
Sex abuse charges, particularly those involving children, are extremely serious. They have implications and collateral consequences that can linger even after a case has been closed and the sentence (if there was a conviction) has been served. At Atkins & Markoff, we take our role as criminal defense lawyers very seriously. If you are facing allegations of this nature, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we will provide you with a free and confidential case evaluation to discuss your defense options.