LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge on Wednesday dismissed a high-profile criminal case against a former teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles who was charged with inappropriately touching a female student.
The case against Martin Springer was tossed after prosecutors said they were unable to proceed because the alleged victim did not want to testify, said Deputy District Attorney Alison Meyers.
The testimony of the girl, now 12 years old, was essential to the case but she was traumatized after testifying at a preliminary hearing last September, Meyers said.
The child is not retracting the allegations of abuse she said happened when she was 9 and in the third grade, Meyers said.
"She's just saying she does not want the stress of testifying and seeing Mr. Springer in court," Meyers said.
The girl is the only accuser of Springer and with the charges dismissed against him his case is over.
Meyers said, however, that should the girl change her mind prosecutors could refile the charges at any point until the alleged victim is 28 years old.
"I'm disappointed but when a child is telling you she is being traumatized by the process, we do not push it," Meyers said.
Springer was charged with three felony counts of lewd act on a child and three misdemeanor counts of child molesting, prosecutors said.
His lawyer, John Tyre, said previously that innocent behavior had been blown out of proportion because of the notorious Mark Berndt case.
Berndt is the former Miramonte teacher who last year pleaded no contest to charges of committing lewd acts on children. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Dozens of lawsuits filed on behalf of students had been settled by the district for $30 million, and others are pending.
Springer was arrested and charged in February 2012, shortly after the arrest of Berndt.
The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously in February 2012 to fire Springer, who had taught at the South Los Angeles school for about 25 years.