A San Jose police officer accused of fondling a teenager in 2008 was found not guilty of two felony charges in Santa Clara County Superior Court this afternoon.Officer Julio Morales, 42, was found not guilty of false imprisonment and sexual battery in connection with the search of an 18-year-old woman on the evening of Dec. 3, 2008, on Keyes Street.Following the verdict, Morales looked down and wiped away tears.Outside the courtroom, surrounded by his family and fellow police officers, Morales appeared overcome with emotions and said he couldn’t wait to get back to work.”I thank the jury,” Morales said. “I thank them with all my heart.”Today’s verdict came at the culmination of a two-week long trial during which Morales as well as the victim, identified in court as Cecilia Doe to protect her identity, testified.The jury began deliberating today and returned the not-guilty verdict this afternoon.”I’m very relieved and grateful that the jury returned (the verdict) which it did, which I feel was absolutely warranted by the evidence,” defense attorney Craig Brown said. “They really only took two hours to do so, which indicates to me that it was absolutely clear to them that my client was not guilty of the charges.”Prosecutors had alleged the search was sexual in nature and that Morales touched the young woman’s vagina and groped her breasts.In his closing statement in Santa Clara County Superior Court Monday, prosecutor Ray Mendoza said Morales used his position of trust and authority for his own sexual gratification. He said Morales used the woman’s status as a young, undocumented immigrant from Mexico to his advantage. This afternoon, Mendoza said, “I’m disappointed in the jury’s verdict,” but said he does not plan on filing an appeal.Brown argued during the trial Morales was instilled with a code of honor and ethics while serving in the Marine Corps and would not jeopardize his career and reputation. He said there is no evidence to indicate Morales’ decision to stop and search the woman was motivated by sexual desires.Brown said the search was consensual and that Morales had valid reason to conduct the search because the woman was walking in a high-crime area and she stared at his patrol car as he drove past her. Morales stopped to search her because she reached into her sweatshirt pocket, causing him tosuspect she might have been hiding a weapon, Brown said.
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