MARTINEZ -- After spending most of Monday reviewing evidence against a Concord elementary school teacher charged with 116 counts of child molestation against 14 victims, a prosecutor concluded his closing argument by imploring the jury to rely on reason rather than emotion during deliberations.

"There are more serious forms of sexual abuse," Deputy District Attorney Derek Butts said, referring to defendant Joseph Martin, accused of sticking his hand down the shirts of his fourth- and fifth-grade male students, rubbing their thighs and brushing their groins in class and during visits to his home. "He's got a family. I want to caution you against looking at it in those terms. Decide the case without passion, prejudice or sympathy. When you do, it's 14 against 1."

The 14 John Does who testified against Martin during the trial say the rubs and pats led to inappropriate behavior.

Throughout the day, Butts portrayed Martin as a "crafty" mastermind who created and maintained a sense of trust with his Woodside Elementary students while blurring the line between appropriate and criminal behavior to facilitate his sexual abuse.

"He embraces this gray area and oversteps it time and time again, even after he's been warned," Butts said.

Defense attorney Patrick Clancy was 20 minutes into his closing argument when court was recessed for the day. He will resume his presentation Tuesday morning.


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Martin is charged with 116 counts of molestation (34 of the original 150 counts were dropped by the prosecution over the weekend). Testifying in his own defense over two days last week, Martin defended his affectionate teaching methods by saying hugs, chest rubs and pats on the back were calming gestures he learned from his first grade teacher.

As he did when he cross-examined Martin, Butts showed the jury excerpts from surveys Martin gave his students twice each school year. The letters advised the students that the correspondence "is a personal letter between you and me. No one will ever read it or see it," and asking them, "Did you enjoy the hugs and affection?"

"Of course they did," Butts said. "They're 9 and 10. They're eating it up. This is (written by) a person who is engaging in risky behavior. He's trying to control the risk. Mr. Martin was the master of his domain, like a puppeteer pulling strings."

Butts reviewed the testimony of the 14 boys who claim to have been molested. He also reminded the jury of the adolescent female defense witness who stunned Clancy when she testified that she had witnessed Martin sticking his hand down boys' shirts when she was in his class.

"Mr. Clancy realizes he's hanging by a thread in this case," Butts said, recalling the scene. "There have been very few first days of defense as bad as that."

Ultimately, Butts pointed to the testimony of the 14 victims who told similar stories.

"The defendant's testimony was well-rehearsed," Butts said. "He's crafty. But weigh his testimony with that of his students. He cannot explain why 14 students would lie about him."

In his short time in front of the jury, Clancy sharply criticized two Concord Police Department employees who helped investigate the case and interview alleged victims. One, Clancy said, was a detective "in name only." The other, he said, was neither a police officer nor an investigator.

He also slammed their "confirmatory bias" interview techniques.

Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him at Twitter.com/garyscribe.