Two days after a jury deadlocked 8-4 in favor of acquittal, a judge dismissed the misdemeanor child annoyance case against Joseph Manuel Orduna, the former NFL running back who was teaching at Godinez Fundamental High School in Santa Ana at the time of his arrest in February.
Orange County Superior Court Judge William Evans said he did not believe another trial would produce a guilty verdict.
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A former 49er, Giant and Colt, 63-year-old Orduna was such a standout at the University of Nebraska, where he wrestled and played football for the Cornhuskers, that he was later inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame.
He was teaching and coaching wrestling at Godinez a winter ago when the accounts of two 16-year-old female students led to a Santa Ana Police investigation and the placement on administrative leave of what the Santa Ana Unified School District referred to as its “former teacher.”
The well-liked instructor, who was eventually charged with
two misdemeanor counts of child annoyance, was looking at up to two years in jail with a conviction.
City News Service reports Orduna “wept with joy” as Judge Evans dismissed the charges Wednesday.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.