A student said she was sexually assaulted in Short Pump. A teacher said it's not true.

Posted at 4:16 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 16:47:38-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Day one of the trial of a Short Pump Middle School teacher accused of sexually assaulting a student at the school in 2017 wrapped up Tuesday after a day of jury selection, opening remarks, and several witnesses taking the stand -- including the alleged victim.

Dean Lakey, 60, was arrested in September 2021 and charged with six counts related to the alleged assault.

However, prior to the start of Tuesday's trial, prosecutors "nolle prossed" or set aside four of the charges and amended one of the remaining ones. Prosecutors amended the rape charge to object sexual battery, telling CBS 6 the accuser was unsure of what penetrated her during the alleged assault, and also proceeded with one count of indecent liberties with a minor.

Jury selection lasted about an hour and a jury of eight women and five men was selected.

In the opening remarks, Henrico County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kelly Cotting said the victim was shy, bookish, and "the perfect victim."

Lakey, who she called the "King of Short Pump Middle School," used the power dynamic between the two of them to make the victim feel like she could never come forward, she said. But she added the victim was now coming forward and knows she can "voice the truth" as she was the only other person in the room when the alleged assault happened other than Lakey.

Lakey's attorney Craig Cooley told the jury that his client "chose no one" and did not touch, much less, rape anyone.

He said that he would show that at the time of the alleged assault, Lakey would have been at another school coaching soccer. He added that the bathroom where it allegedly happened would have been inaccessible by the victim because a gate blocked off access to it at the time. He also asked the jurors to pay attention to differing accounts of what the victim said happened.

He added that during Lakey's 37 years as a teacher and coach he came across thousands of kids, but there was only this one accusation.

The first witness to take the stand was the accuser herself.

Now 18, she was 14 at the time of the first alleged assault in March 2017.

Past interviews or statements indicated there were other alleged assaults committed by Lakey at the school, but the victim asked to only proceed with the initial one. At times during her testimony, she was visibly shaking or crying.

She described being a part of the Technology Student Association (TSA) and would stay late after school in the lead up to competitions. On the day in question, sometime in March 2017 around 7 p.m., she said some students left the TSA room to get picked up by car, she walked through the school to the front entrance where she normally exited and would walk to her house a short distance away.

She said she had to go to the bathroom and went to the one by the gym. She said when she was in the bathroom stall, she heard someone else come in. When she exited the stall, she saw Lakey there and blocking the door.

She testified she tried to push past Lakey, but he grabbed her arm, pushed her face-down onto one of the sinks and sexually assaulted her. She said Lakey pulled down the spandex she was wearing and she felt pressure in and around her genitals. She said she did not know why Lakey stopped and added he did not say anything afterward, then left.

She said she cleaned herself up, walked home, and ate dinner.

She told the court she did not tell anyone about what happened for a number of reasons including that she did not think she would be believed.

She said after the alleged incident, she had a hard time going to school and would either say she was sick and not go at all or would go to school, then go to the nurse and complain of a stomach ache and get sent home.

She said the first person she told about the allegations was her then-boyfriend, now ex-, in August 2020. She said she would have nightmares about what happened and woke up one time when staying with her boyfriend and asked him to stop if she ever asked. She said she could not remember if she told him everything at once, adding they spoke several times about it.

She said eventually, in April 2021, they got in a fight over the phone and she told him she felt violated by some of the sexual things he did, but added he would never hurt her on purpose. This prompted the boyfriend to tell his mom about the allegations with Lakey. The mom is a mandatory reporter and reported the allegations, which prompted the ensuing investigation.

On cross-examination, the defense focused first on the potential time that the victim would have been at the school and asked about the route she took from the TSA lab to the bathroom.

The defense showed the accuser a picture of the gate that would go down at 4 p.m., blocking access between the school and the gym portion (done because the gym was rented out to outside groups during that time), and asked if she had ever seen it -- which the victim said she had not.

The defense then brought up statements made in prior interviews or in the report made by her boyfriend's mom that conflicted with other testimony. In the report from the boyfriend's mom, the accuser allegedly described Lakey's genitals, but she testified in other interviews she never saw it and kept her eyes closed. She said she did not remember describing the genitals.

The defense also raised questions during witness testimony of alleged bite or nail marks left by Lakey. The boyfriend said he noticed marks around the pelvis of the victim which she initially said was Lakey, but later said it was cut marks she did to herself.

The then-boyfriend and another friend the accuser told about the alleged incident also took to the stand to recount what they were told. The friend said she found out in August 2020 as well, but the accuser never named the alleged perpetrator.

The accuser's mother also took to the stand to testify that her daughter continuously missed school or got sick after Spring Break of that year. The friend had testified it started before March of that year.

A forensic interviewer also testified about her interview with the accuser and video of the interview was played, where the accuser described similar testimony to when she was on the stand.

The prosecution also attempted to call two investigators to the stand, but they were blocked by the defense and judge.

During a conversation when the jury was not present, the prosecution said they wanted to bring a detective forward to counter a statement during the defense's opening remarks that Lakey only had this one complaint.

The prosecution said after they had set up a tip line seeking more potential victims, they said two parents called with allegations -- but neither wanted to proceed with charges.

The judge ruled the detective could not testify about the tip line, but if the two accusers would come forward and speak, they would be allowed.

Two witnesses for the defense also took the stand on day one.

One was the teacher who ran the TSA club and testified they normally would get out at around 4:30 or 5 p.m. in 2017. He said kids could stay as late as 7 p.m., but they would not be left alone in the school.

A teacher's aide also testified about the gate that would be locked at 4 p.m., blocking access from the main portion of the school where the TSA lab was and the section with the gym.

She added Lakey was "respected," "solid," and a "good guy" when asked about his character.

On cross-examination, the prosecution asked if the aide was aware of other allegations about Lakey dating back to 1999 including alleged mishandling of school funds, allegedly calling a group of students a homophobic slur, lying to administrators about it, and allegedly kicking and pushing students. The aide said she was unaware and it did not change her opinion of Lakey.

This was the final witness for the day and after the jury was excused, the two sides argued as to whether prosecutors could present those other allegations. The judge indicated he believed they could, but may rule further in the future.

The trial is slated for three days and Lakey is expected to take the stand in his own defense.