Overview and Background
June, 2011 – A Nashville, TN area mother alleges that William Arnold molested her son over the past three years in his capacity as a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor and files a $3.5 million civil lawsuit against William, individually, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nashville.
November, 2011 – While the Davidson County police investigated the allegations and decided not to arrest William, due to lack of evidence, the District Attorney nevertheless proceeded forward with three counts of aggravated sexual battery and three counts of rape of a child and William was ultimately indicted by a grand jury.
July 13, 2013 – A Davidson County, Nashville jury found William guilty of three counts of rape of a child and one count of aggravated sexual battery (the other two charges were dismissed as the judge granted the motion that it was physically impossible that the alleged acts could have taken place as stated by the accuser). The evidence presented at trial was as follows:
1. Testimony by the accuser alleging the molestation
2. Testimony by William Arnold adamantly denying the molestation
3. Testimony by the mother alleging the molestation
4. Testimony by the lawyer that filed the civil suit against Big Brothers Big Sisters
5. Testimony by Aaron Powell, William Arnold’s father and Angela Lake (William’s ex-wife) in support of William’s denial of the charges
It is of the utmost importance to note that there was no evidence to support the claims of the accuser. Namely, there was NO:
– Physical evidence of abuse
– Corroboration by witness accounts
– Circumstantial evidence of the accounts of abuse
The guilty verdicts were rendered by the jury based solely on the testimony of the individuals listed above. If this does not seem fair or just to you – it shouldn’t!!!
September 23, 2013 – William’s defense team filed motions for acquittal, or in the alternative, retrial, which were heard by the presiding judge on this date. After hearing arguments from the State and defense counsel, the Judge ultimately ruled against William on both motions. The judge provided the following reasons for his decision:
1. Based on Tennessee case law i.e., legal precedent, in cases like this (where it is only the accuser’s word against the defendant’s word; no physical evidence), the court typically gives more weight to the accuser’s testimony given the fact that there is no physical evidence.
2. Although the child’s credibility was questioned, which resulted in two charges being tossed by the judge as “impossible”, this fact could not be presented to the jury for its consideration as it was deemed by the judge to be prejudicial.
3. Against the instruction of the judge, the child’s civil attorney made a comment as to the child’s mental state, which was heard by the jury. The judge stated in his ruling on the motions that he directed the jury not to factor that in their ruling and thus presumed that they did as instructed.
4. It was acknowledged by the judge that there was evidence that the accuser in fact had a homosexual relationship with another considerably older minor (whose name, not so coincidentally, also happens to be William). However, the defense was unable to get the minor to appear in court during trial, thus this information was not admitted into evidence.
5. While the accuser was extremely vague in his accounts of dates/times of the alleged abuse, according to Tennessee case law, the accuser is only required to allege general time periods during which the alleged activities occurred and not specific dates. This obviously handicapped any efforts by William to rebut the allegations regarding his whereabouts and activities on specific dates, as only broad ranges were given.
According to Tennessee law, the rape counts carry a minimum sentencing of 25 years each and the aggravated sexual battery count carries a minimum sentence of 8 years. The State requested an opportunity to argue that the sentences should run consecutively instead of concurrently, meaning William would face 83 years in prison if this motion was granted. Due to the fact that a jury had to be seated for a separate case, the actual sentencing had to be finalized on another date.
October 21, 2013 – Both William’s defense team and the State presented rationale about the issue of concurrent vs. consecutive sentencing. The mother of the accuser was present and made a victim impact statement. Testimony was also given by a host of character witnesses for William including family, friends, work colleagues, and his former wife. Moreover, the judge heard a statement directly from William reiterating his innocence and incessant fight for truth in this case.
Based on the information and testimony adduced, the judge ruled in favor of concurrent sentencing which is 25 years as the arguments, information, testimonies, etc. presented did not warrant the maximum sentencing. Additionally, the judge granted the defense team’s recommendation to add to William’s official record that two of the original counts from the trial were dismissed because it was physically impossible that these acts could have taken place.
Summary and Other Observations
1. William Arnold was convicted solely on the testimony of the accuser and the accuser’s mother. There is/was no physical evidence or other corroboration supporting the accusations.
2. Most of the evidence relating to the accuser’s alleged homosexual relationship with another older boy, also named William, was not heard by the jury.
3. Certain charges were thrown out as the judge ruled the child’s allegations were physically impossible based on what the child testified occurred.
4. Adverse evidentiary rulings definitely hurt the defense.