GULFPORT -- At a three-day trial in Circuit Court on Wednesday, a Harrison County jury found Houng Nyugen, 75, of Long Beach, not guilty on four counts of touching a child for lustful purposes.
This was Nyugen's second trial. His first several months ago ended in a mistrial, his attorney Michael Crosby said, because prosecutors failed to disclose key testimony beforehand.
Nyugen was accused of groping a relative when she was in the fifth and sixth grades, Crosby said.
During the investigation, Crosby said, the girl claimed she tried to fight off Nguyen when he put his hands under her clothes. At trial, he said, she changed her testimony, saying she allowed him to grope and kiss her.
She explained the inconsistency, Crosby said, by saying "she was embarrassed for consenting to it, but now that she was older, she wanted to tell the truth."
The District Attorney's Office said testimony for the prosecution detailed the Long Beach Police Department's investigation. The girl's parents contacted police after she reported the alleged abuse to a school counselor. The counselor also testified, as did a clinical psychologist who said the girl's statements were consistent with those of a child who has been sexually abused.
"Any time you see the emotional toll that an adverse verdict can have on a child in the immediate aftermath of a case, it is difficult," District Attorney Joel Smith said. "However, we respect the jury's decision in the case. This was a tough case and we will not shy away from trying tough cases and seeking justice for children in our community."