GREENFIELD — Was a young woman sexually assaulted? Or did a teen seeking attention conjure up a story?
The 12 jurors called upon to weigh the evidence against Brian Layton this week couldn’t decide.
A two-day trial in Hancock Circuit Court ended with a hung jury Wednesday afternoon.
Layton, 54, of Greenfield, was arrested in January 2015 after a girl came forward and told police Layton touched her inappropriately on several occasions when she stayed at his Greenfield home, according to court documents.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors tried to convince the jury that Layton took advantage of opportunities when he was alone with the victim to sexually assault her. Meanwhile, the defense painted the victim as a lying teen who cast Layton in a negative light to get attention.
After three hours of deliberation, jurors told a bailiff they could not agree whether Layton should be found guilty of the felony charges against him: sexual misconduct with a minor and child molest.
Prosecutors now must decide whether to proceed with a new trial or dismiss the charges.
Deputy prosecutor Georgeanna Teipen, who presented the state’s evidence, said she will meet with her colleagues to go over the case before making a decision. On Wednesday afternoon, however, she appeared ready to proceed with a new trial.
“If I believe it happened — and I do — it’s worth it,” she said.
Prosecutors said the assaults happened between 2009 and 2014, each when the victim was visiting Layton’s home. Neither the victim nor the defendant were able to recall exact years or months surrounding those visits.
Throughout the trial, attorney Randall Shouse of Indianapolis, who represented Layton, questioned the girl’s credibility, pointing to her willingness to return to her alleged abuser’s home as evidence she might be lying.
If the girl had been abused in front of others — as she testified Tuesday — there would be witnesses to the acts, he told the jury in his closing arguments.
Layton took the stand Wednesday afternoon and told the jury he never abused the girl.
He recalled memories of once rubbing the girl’s back, smacking the girl’s bottom, as if to say “good job” during a game they were playing, and once mistakenly walking in on her while she was changing. He gave her hugs or kisses on the cheek to say hello or goodbye, but he never intended those acts to be sexual, he testified.
Teipen asked the jury to consider how difficult it was for the victim to come into a courtroom to talk about such private matters in front of strangers; she wouldn’t have done so, Teipen argued, were those statements not rooted in fact.
Layton, who was released from the Hancock County Jail on $1,000 bond immediately following his arrest, wasn’t in the courtroom when the jury returned from deliberating.
He is ordered to have no contact with the victim but will not be taken into police custody while the case remains in limbo.
The trial’s result is as frustrating for all parties involved, Shouse said.
“It’s not like a tie in a soccer or football game,” Shouse said. “We want a definitive outcome.”