Jury acquits Kauai doctor on sex charge
A juror says there was no evidence that proved he was guilty
LIHUE » It took a jury less than an hour yesterday to find osteopathic doctor Jon Van Cleave not guilty of sexually assaulting his then-13-year-old patient in 2002.
Van Cleave, 58, of Poipu, was all smiles after court, exchanging handshakes with his lawyers. His attorney, Michael Green, instructed him not to comment on the case.
Green, however, said the decision "was a fair verdict. (The jury) obviously didn't believe anything they heard."
One juror, who wished not to be named, said after the verdict that there was no evidence to prove he was guilty, and that the victim and his mother "didn't take it seriously."
Van Cleave's accuser, now 18, testified last week that he was molested while his mother was less than five feet away behind a screen. But the juror, who went on a site visit with the court, said it was easy to see through the screen and difficult to imagine in the way it was represented.
The juror also said she took offense to the apparent ease to lie by the mother and son, as well as the mother's decision to not tell authorities and to continue e-mail contact with Van Cleave for almost two years after she said the alleged molestation took place.
The mother testified that she kept in contact with the doctor so Van Cleave would provide incriminating evidence against himself. But Green said the family was just trying to siphon as much money as possible from the doctor.
Van Cleave was paying the boy's tuition to private school and gave him numerous gifts. The defense said that the doctor also supplied another student with tuition to the private school.
"We believe the system works," said Deputy Prosecutor Ken Norelli after the verdict. "Based on the evidence they had, they did what they could."
Van Cleave, who has essentially been retired for a few years, will likely not practice medicine again on Kauai, Green said, while he continues to be a single parent for his 8-year-old boy.