Jurors deliberating in the sexual abuse case of a former New York Yankee told a Long Island judge Wednesday they couldn’t reach a verdict and needed advice on how to proceed.
Rosendo “Rusty” Torres, 65, is facing sexual abuse and sexual conduct against a child charges. Prosecutors allege he had inappropriate sexual contact with two young girls, ages 8 and 9, while working as a youth coach for the Town of Oyster Bay at an after-school baseball program. Torres has been on trial in Nassau County for two weeks and jurors began deliberations in the case on Tuesday.
In a note Wednesday afternoon, the 12-member panel said they have “not been able to achieve unanimity on any of the eight charges.” They said they had voted by secret ballot four separate times, but were stuck. The group also asked for the judge’s help on how to continue “in the face of this unchanging division of opinion.”
Nassau County Court Judge Tammy Robbins said their situation really wasn’t out of the ordinary and ordered the group to continue hammering away toward a finding. “Really, it is not uncommon for a jury to have difficulty reaching a verdict,” she said. “The bottom line is you really have not been deliberating that long.”
“There’s a division in the deliberation room,” Torres’ lawyer, Troy A. Smith, said. “The fact is they’ve come back with what’s called a ‘deadlock note’ as to all eight counts … Some members are finding there is reasonable doubt.” A spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice would only say they “appreciate the hard work of the jury.”
Police have said Torres rubbed up against one of the girls – in an act she knew as “bumping” – before allegedly exposing himself to her and encouraging her to touch him. Prosecutors charge he took the third-grader into the back of his van and had her get on top of him and bounce up and down. The next week, he allegedly exposed himself and asked if she wanted to touch him.
Prosecutors say Torres began abusing the second victim in kindergarten and continued until May 2012, when he was arrested. She allegedly came forward to report the abuse after her friend – the other victim – told her parents and went to the police. Smith has asserted that the girl’s testimony is “a product” of the police and said the allegation was “a product of the DA’s office manufacturing a charge.”
“Apparently I was working with the police and was in cahoots with them to manufacture the charges against this man,” Assistant District Attorney D.J. Rosenbaum told jurors on Tuesday. “If you believe that, please go right back there and acquit him. If you don’t believe that, let’s move forward.” The jury will continue deliberations Thursday.