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Archive for Monday, February 5, 2001

Chmura apologizes, wants to rejoin NFL

February 5, 2001

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— One day after being acquitted of sexually assaulting a teen-ager, Mark Chmura broke down in tears as he apologized for his conduct and hoped to resume his NFL career.

"I know as a Green Bay Packer and as a professional athlete, I've disappointed many, many people. And for that I am truly sorry," Chmura said Sunday. "I promise you nothing like this will ever happen again."

The foreman of the jury that acquitted Chmura said the football star is guilty of one thing: bad judgment.

"He put himself in a bad situation by being drunk with kids and in a hot tub in his underwear," foreman Brad Breidenstein, a 38-year-old bar manager from Janesville, said Sunday.

But the jury disagreed with District Attorney Paul Bucher's contention that Chmura went from frolicking around in wet boxers with drunken teen-agers to luring the 17-year-old girl into a bathroom and sexually assaulting her last April 9.

Chmura was acquitted Saturday night of charges of child enticement and sexual assault that carried up to 40 years in prison.

"None of us believed nothing happened. We all believed something happened in there," said a 59-year-old female juror who asked that her name not be used. "But we had no evidence to prove it."

Breidenstein said without any DNA evidence, it was hard to prove anything.

"We all agreed that they were in that bathroom together. But we don't really know what took place," Breidenstein said. "It was like (defense lawyer) Gerald Boyle said: 'She got caught in the bathroom with a married man and now she's got to get out of this little predicament.' "

Bucher insisted he proved during the trial that Chmura had inappropriate sexual contact with a minor.

"The evidence clearly indicates there was sexual contact," the prosecutor said. "The real issue became if it was consensual or not. That was an issue for the jury to decide. The jury found we were not able to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt, probably for a variety of reasons."

"Baloney," Boyle said. "I argued there wasn't any sexual contact. That's what the jury found."

At a news conference in which Boyle didn't allow his client to discuss what happened at the party because of the threat of a civil lawsuit, Chmura broke down crying.

"This has opened my eyes up to a lot of things," Chmura said. "And like I said, I disappointed a lot of people. And for that I am truly sorry."

Chmura said he would celebrate his acquittal by going to Disney World no kidding and that he plans to resume his pro football career.

"I'm ready to get back to work," he said. "I plan on suiting up for someone next year."

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