Convicting the Rev. Kevin Boyd Sr. of repeatedly molesting a young member of his New Orleans flock during several years was never really an option in the jury room, said one member of the Criminal District Court panel that deadlocked Tuesday.
At the end of a weeklong trial and three hours of deliberation, the vote was 4-2 for Boyd’s acquittal, said juror Edwin Curry, who counted himself among the majority.
“We found the state didn’t do its job,” he said. “We didn’t find the guy innocent.”
One female juror held firm from the start that Boyd was guilty. The other guilty vote came near the end of deliberations, Curry said, after Judge Camille Buras ordered the split jurors to keep talking.
Because it was a six-member jury, not 12, the verdict needed to be unanimous.
Curry, a bureau assistant for The New Orleans Advocate, said the most strident voice for acquittal on the six-member panel was a fellow pastor who stressed how “we would find it amazing what the people in a church do to each other,” Curry said. “The pastor wasn’t budging.”
He and other jurors were swayed by defense arguments that the allegations against Boyd stemmed from a bitter fight with another pastor, the Rev. Lionel Traylor, over church spending. Traylor broke from a church that Boyd had launched in Jackson, Mississippi, and took Boyd’s accuser under his wing.
With Traylor’s help, Boyd’s accuser lodged both civil and criminal complaints about what he described on the witness stand as an escalating series of sexual assaults. Boyd was his godfather and a friend of his mother, he testified, and began molesting him at age 11 or 12.
He said the assaults came at Boyd’s home, where the boy often stayed, or in the church office at the Church at New Orleans on Chef Menteur Highway. Boyd continues to lead the church.
“It would make me feel awful,” said the man, now 28.
The New Orleans Advocate does not name victims of sexual abuse without their consent.
In the last incident, which the man said took place when he was 19 or 20, Boyd lifted him from the top bunk of a bed at Traylor’s house in Jackson.
“Who would believe me?” he testified about his years of silence. “Who would believe the bishop would do something like that?”
Defense attorney Kerry Cuccia declared that last account “preposterous,” and Curry said it raised eyebrows in the jury room.
“Mechanically, we didn’t think the bishop had enough upper body strength to be doing that,” Curry said.
There were other holes in the prosecution’s case, Curry said, and a lack of corroborating evidence or testimony.
Similar allegations by an older man who testified to abuse at Boyd’s hands when he was 17 didn’t much register with the jury, given his age, Curry said.
Curry said he found the accuser’s testimony “quite compelling, and, personally, I was quite sympathetic to it,” despite vagaries in his account and the passage of time. “We’ve all read stories how it’s a horrific thing to come forward, especially when the church is your family and you’re going to be destroying all your relationships.”
But jurors questioned why Boyd’s accuser filed a pair of civil suits before reporting the alleged abuse to police.
“That made me question where (he) was going with this,” Curry said.
A spokesman said District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office intends to retry Boyd, who faces another count of recurring molestation involving the other man.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.