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Trial of ex-teacher accused of raping girl goes to jury

The future of a former teacher from Huntington Beach accused of raping a girl when she was 13 is now in a jury's hands.

The defense and prosecution made their closing arguments Tuesday in the trial of Jeffrey Scott Jones, 56, who is charged in Orange County Superior Court with two felony counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one felony count of continuous sexual abuse.

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If Jones is convicted, he could face a maximum of 68 years to life in state prison, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

Prosecutors accuse Jones of raping the girl —who is now 17 — on May 4 and 9, 2013.

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In her closing argument Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown alleged Jones has a history of targeting "young, fatherless, penniless girls."

One of the prosecution's witnesses was a 37-year-old woman who testified Monday that Jones had sex with her when she was underage.

At the time, the woman was 17 and attending Bell High School in Bell, where Jones taught English. Jones was her teacher in 11th and 12th grades, she said.

Jones was a teacher for 27 years at Bell High and Gahr High School in Cerritos, according to prosecutors.

In the case of the 13-year-old, Brown said Jones began sexually abusing her when she was in eighth grade.

Brown alleged that Jones made sexual comments to the girl, making her uncomfortable, before progressing to inappropriate touching between Sept. 1, 2012, and April 30, 2013.

The girl's mother, testifying for the defense, claimed Jones "was not capable" of raping her daughter, who the mother said has a history of lying to her.

"[The girl] has a problem with telling the truth," she said. "I've caught her in big lies and little lies. I couldn't trust her."

The mother's own mother — the alleged victim's grandmother — testified that the woman had her own problems with lying and drugs, claiming she had "abandoned" two of her children when they were 3 months old to run off with a neighbor.

The grandmother also said her daughter was mentally and verbally abusive to the girl Jones is accused of raping.

Brown said she believes that the girl's mother, who has a romantic relationship with Jones, is an unreliable witness who tried to protect him in her testimony.

In a recording that prosecutors played Thursday, the mother's immediate response when police told her that her daughter claimed Jones raped her was "I don't believe it. I don't understand why she is doing this."

In another recording that prosecutors played Monday, the mother could be heard shouting "Get out of my face" when a detective tried to show her the results of her daughter's rape exam.

Brown brought up the rape exam in her closing argument, saying Jones' DNA was found inside the girl.

The mother disputed that the DNA is evidence that Jones raped her.

Jones' attorney, Thomas Edward Welbourn, also believes the DNA evidence is questionable.

In his closing statement, he described the girl as a troubled teen who consistently lied to her mother.

Welbourn said the mother exposed the girl to several abusive homes, so she developed lying as a "survival mechanism."

Welbourn also said the girl had been suspended from various schools after allegations of stealing.

Twitter: @benbrazilpilot

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