A state appeals court on Thursday overturned the child sexual assault conviction of a former Glens Falls dance instructor, finding technical errors during jury selection should result in a new trial.
The ruling by the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court will result in Timothy McGuire being brought back to Warren County Court in the coming weeks for a new prosecution. McGuire was found guilty of second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child, a felony that was filed for repeated abuse of a male student at his dance school over a nine-year period.
The court found that Judge John Hall did not make proper inquiries to a potential juror who indicated a possible bias against homosexuals, and also did not follow proper procedure when a juror inquired about what would happen if the panel did not reach a unanimous verdict.
Hall responded he had not had a trial in which the jury could not reach a verdict and that they would have to deliberate a week or two for that to happen. The jury reached a verdict the next day.
That answer was improperly given without consulting with the lawyers in the case first, the appeals court found.
“This was coercive, in that the jurors were not informed that, while keeping an open mind and considering the viewpoints of fellow jurors, they must not surrender their conscientiously held beliefs or acquiesce to pressure to arrive at a unanimous verdict,” Justice William McCarthy wrote.
Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan noted that the appeals court found there was sufficient evidence for the jury to convict McGuire.
“It certainly allows us to go forward with a retrial,” she said.
McGuire was represented on the appeal by lawyer Cynthia Feathers, who did not return a phone call for comment Thursday.
His lawyer for the trial, Tucker Stanclift, said he had predicted the appeals court would grant a new trial because he knew the jury issues were significant.
“The comment was coercive and it led a jury that was 11-1 in favor of acquittal the first day to swing its vote the next day,” he said.
McGuire, 51, of Glens Falls, was being held in Watertown Correctional Facility as of Thursday. He has been serving a 5-year prison sentence.
He ran Tim McGuire Dance Centre in the region for nearly three decades, and had testified he did not have improper contact with the accuser.
Prosecutors were barred by Hall from bringing 21 other men before the jury who claimed McGuire had improper sexual contact with them while they were children because the allegations were too old.