A former state teacher of the year couldn't have committed the molestation charges he faces because he was born more woman than man and is incapable of sexual arousal, his attorney said Tuesday.
That surprising alibi came during opening statements in the trial of Charles "Chuck" Long Jr., a former Charleston County teacher who was named South Carolina's top educator in 1986. Long, 59, is accused of engaging in masturbation sessions and other deviant acts with one of his former students on James Island during the 1980s.
The events occurred between the time the student was 11 and 14, authorities have said.
Long's attorney, Andy Savage, told the jury such acts were physically impossible for Long, who was born with two X chromosomes and physical characteristics of a woman. His genitalia doesn't function in a sexual manner, he said.
"He doesn't have men's genitalia that can do the things that (his accuser) alleges," Savage said.
Savage told the jury that prosecutors were made aware of Long's genetic condition some time ago but proceeded with the case anyway, humiliating the much-decorated teacher in the twilight of his career. Once armed with the knowledge, prosecutors simply amended their case and the alleged victim changed his story, Savage said.
Reached later in the day, 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson disputed Savage's account. She said Savage had alluded to a medical condition but never shared details with prosecutors or allowed the state to examine Long. Under the law, Savage isn't required to share his defense and prosecutors could not compel such discovery, she said.
Wilson said the state has every intention of proceeding with its case and has witnesses and evidence to support the charges against Long.
Assistant Solicitor Trip Riesen told the jury that Long took advantage of a lonely fifth-grader at Stono Park Elementary School who was looking for a father figure. Long took the boy on trips, hosted him at his West Ashley home overnight and recruited him into the Charleston Youth Company, a performing arts group he founded, he said.
Long then "groomed" the boy, Riesen said, starting with inappropriate jokes and progressing to watching pornographic movies, drinking alcohol, playing sexually suggestive games and having mutual masturbation sessions. He finally cut off contact with Long after a disturbing session in a hot tub, Riesen said.
The boy became withdrawn, his grades suffered and he dropped out of school, Riesen said. He kept his secret until he learned in 2007 that his nephew was going to marry Long's daughter, and he became worried for the fate of their children, he said.
The alleged victim came forward and Long was charged in 2008 with committing a lewd act on a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Long was working at James Island Middle School at the time and was promptly suspended from his job.
The Post and Courier's policy is not to identify victims of sex-abuse crimes, but the accuser, Chad Waltz, had said he wanted his name published.
Savage had Long stand up at the defense table. The jury stared with rapt attention as Savage promised they would hear medical experts offer scientific evidence to prove Long's innocence. He said Long's genetic condition is well-documented.
Long has never had intercourse with his wife and his two children are the product of artificial insemination, Savage said.
Savage asked the jury to imagine Long's embarrassment at having to stand before a crowded courtroom and reveal his most private secrets while fighting "horrendous" allegations. Long's family members sat in the audience -- some weeping, some holding hands -- as he stood silently for all to see.