By Howard Packowitz
BLOOMINGTON – The attorney for former Twin-Cities pastor Matthew Everly said in the coming days he’ll file a motion to have child abuse allegations erased from Everly’s criminal record.
The anticipated motion for expungement follows a McLean County Judge’s decision Monday finding Everly, 26, not guilty on all 11 charges, including aggravated battery to a child.
Prosecutors believed circumstantial evidence was sufficient enough to convict Everly of breaking his infant daughter’s legs and an elbow, apparently while changing the baby’s diaper.
Judge Casey Costigan said he could only guess how the child suffered her injuries, and he wasn’t convinced it happened during a diaper change.
Costigan said emotion didn’t factor into his verdict, although many of Everly’s supporters, who packed the courtroom, broke into tears after the acquittal.
“An innocent man’s life was torn apart, a newly-married couple with their new baby,” said a woman who attended the trial.
Another of Everly’s supporters acknowledged it will be hard for him to undo the damage done to his reputation. Doubters, she said, should have listened to trial testimony.
“How can you take the doubt out of some people’s minds?”
“Sitting in that courtroom and listening to the whole thing, it’s obvious to me that he’s not guilty,” she said.
“We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that his character was sterling, and this was not something he could have ever done,” said another of Everly’s supporters.
Defense Attorney Scott Kording, who’s scheduled to be sworn-in as an associate judge January 18, said he hopes Everly can return to some form of the ministry.
Everly was a pastor at Eastview Christian Church in Normal before his arrest.
McLean County State’s Attorney Don Knapp declined comment after the trial.
Howard Packowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org