Jurors acquit ex-UT officer of sex assault

Sellers Bailey III

Photo by: Peter Yang AMERICAN-STATESMAN

 

By Ralph K.M. Haurwitz
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Saturday, September 13, 2003

A former University of Texas police officer was acquitted by a jury Friday of two charges stemming from oral sex performed on him in his patrol car by a female UT student while he was on duty.

Sellers Bailey III, 38, of Austin testified that the act took place and he knew it was wrong. However, he denied coercing or forcing the woman and asserted that she initiated the sexual activity.

The jury in state District Court cleared him of sexual assault and of improper sexual activity with a person in custody.

Bailey thanked the 12-person jury for its hard work.

"I'm glad it's over," he said later. "I'm kind of numb."

He said he would now try to find a job.

The jury deliberated for nearly 13 hours over two days. Charles Craig, Bailey's lawyer, said the verdict could have gone either way.

Gail Van Winkle, an assistant district attorney, said she was disappointed.

Bailey's accuser, who declined to reveal her name in court, testified that he forced her to perform oral sex on April 30, 2001, after he drove her to a campus parking garage. Bailey had been sent to investigate after the woman's car struck a stop sign.

The woman, now 31, is no longer enrolled at UT. She has filed civil litigation against the university, contending that it knew Bailey was a danger because of previous allegations of sexual misconduct.

Bailey, who resigned from the UT police department shortly after being charged, could have faced up to 20 years in prison.

The case to a large degree boiled down to his word against his accuser's.

The prosecution hammered away at Bailey's contention that the sexual activity began after he told the woman she was free to go, meaning that she was no longer in custody. Van Winkle called that a convenient explanation but hardly plausible.

The defense challenged the woman's account of events, saying she kept changing her testimony about how much alcohol she had consumed that day. Her blood-alcohol concentration was 0.17 percent, which is more than twice the legal limit for drivers.

rhaurwitz@statesman.com; 445-3604