SARANAC LAKE -- Charges against a former Saranac Lake elementary school teacher's aide have been dropped.

Seth Kilburn, 30, of Saranac Lake was cleared of five misdemeanor charges Wednesday in Village Court after his attorney's motion to dismiss went unopposed. He was arrested in March for allegedly forcibly touching a special-education student.

Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Jack Delehanty said Friday that the prosecution did not have a case.

"One claim could not be substantiated because the child was absent that day," he said.

And the other alleged incident occurred after Kilburn had disciplined the student.

"There was an animus between the child and teacher, and the child had been disciplined by the teacher directly before the allegations were made. The people most clearly did not have a case beyond reasonable doubt."

Records from both defendant and plaintiff were subpoenaed, Delehanty said, along with the student's medical records.

As the district attorney's investigation ensued, no one came forward with further information about the case except for another teacher who had been through a similar circumstance with the same student, Delehanty said.

Ronald Kilburn, Seth Kilburn's attorney and uncle, said all of the charges against his nephew are "gone."

"Quite frankly, we passed along information to the DA that this student had accused other teachers of this same offense in the past -- at least two others. Also the (special education) students are not left alone with a teacher's aide. It is an open classroom, and there's always another teacher present."

Attorney Kilburn said he presented a motion in court Wednesday saying the district attorney had insufficient evidence to proceed, which was unopposed by prosecution.

"Seth is quite elated," he said. "He has no ill will toward this student; he realizes the child has a problem and needs help."

Seth Kilburn is, however, concerned that other teachers might face the same problem in Saranac Lake.

"It's been a very trying ordeal," his attorney said. "Seth is in a graduate program and was leaving to take another job when he was arrested and consequently lost that job."

Seth Kilburn's teacher's aide certification was also put on hold until the case was solved.

His lawyer faulted initial police investigators for not looking at relevant details before making the arrest.

"Had the Saranac Lake police officer who handled the initial incident done a little bit of research, it would not have gone this far."

He said the school was very quick to let Seth go.

"They asked him to leave a few days ahead of the scheduled last day. I think they ducked this.

"There's a stigma attached to this type of accusation. There are at least some people out there who are going to say he must have done something. Well, he didn't."

The attorney did not know if the former teacher's aide would pursue litigation for damages.

kdedam@pressrepublican.com

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