Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Hall convicted in sexual assault case
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Former major league outfielder Mel Hall was found guilty Tuesday of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl he coached on an elite basketball team a decade ago.
A Tarrant County jury took about 90 minutes to convict the 48-year-old Hall on three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child.
The sentencing phase was to resume Wednesday after two witnesses testified Tuesday afternoon. Hall faces up to life in prison.
Hall's accuser, now 23, testified Monday that Hall engaged in sex acts with her in various places, including her home and Hall's apartment.
Hall was arrested in 2007 by police in a Fort Worth suburb investigating allegations of sexual abuse.
His 13-year major league career ended in 1996, two years before Hall met the girl's family at a basketball tournament. The girl's father asked for baseball tips for his son, but Hall's friendship with the family grew through basketball, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Hall was impressed with the girl's talent and wanted to start a basketball team, according to testimony. Soon, he was giving the girl private lessons and stayed in the family home while he was apparently building a house in a nearby suburb.
The woman testified that Hall first exposed himself to her and her younger brother at home, when their parents were away. The boy testified that he thought they were playing a game and never told his parents.
Hall's interaction with the girl progressed to inappropriate touching and him showing her how to perform oral sex, she testified. She said he also showed her pornographic movies at an apartment Hall shared with his girlfriend and their infant son.
"I trusted him," the woman testified. "I honestly had no idea anything was inappropriate at the time. I looked up to him. I just thought this is how normal people act."
The investigation by North Richland Hills police also involved a 14-year-old girl who played on the team. Hall faces charges in that case. A trial is pending.
Hall hit .276 with 134 home runs and 620 RBIs in a career that included stints with the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants. He also played four years in Japan.