A former LaVille Junior High teacher accused of slapping a special needs student has been found not guilty.
It only took jurors in South Bend about an hour Wednesday afternoon to deliberate and return the verdict.
Saundra Yute, 45, was charged with "felony battery to a child" after investigators say she smacked and spanked a 12-year-old special needs student.
In what was, at times, tearful testimony, Yute testified on her own behalf, saying her "motherly instincts took over."
She said the student urinated on the bathroom floor on purpose then laughed at her. So, Yute claimed she tapped the student's bottom, then put two fingers on her chin and said, "You're a big girl, big girls don't pee on the floor."
Prosecutors claimed Yute caused the girl pain when she put her hands on her in the bathroom.
In court Wednesday, a former LaVille teacher's aide said she saw Yute hit the student following a bathroom accident last year.
A Special Victims Unit detective testified Wednesday that teacher's aides did not tell her they saw red marks on the student's bottom or face when she interviewed them, but she didn't ask.
The judge denied a motion filed by Yute's attorney claiming there was not enough evidence to move forward, because the state didn't show injury to the victim.
Becca Cuthbert, 12, has a neurological disorder that keeps her from speaking, writing or going to the bathroom without help.
The former LaVille Junior/Senior high school principal testified Yute apologized right after it happened, then resigned 15 minutes later.
On the stand, Yute told the court, “I was given no help, no training when I was hired.”
She said she resigned immediately because "I was just in over my head."
Yute had an emergency license to teach that class because the normal teacher was on maternity leave. She testified she originally applied for a guidance counselor position at the school but was asked to fill in for the teacher on leave and told a counselor position would open the following year.
After being acquitted, Yute was seen shaking and crying, saying she[s not sure where she will go from here, but she's glad it's all over.