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Hall of Famer was accused of abusing daughters

HOUSTON -- Hall of Fame basketball player Calvin Murphy just
wanted to bask in the moment after a jury cleared him Monday of
sexually abusing five of his 10 daughters more than a decade ago.

"For right now, I am just going to take a step back and enjoy
this moment," he said as he left the courthouse. "As you can
tell, I am a very emotional person. I carry my feelings on my
sleeve. And to hear that people believed in me and found me
innocent of those charges, my heart just swelled up and started
beating very fastly in my body."

The minute the jury left the courtroom, Murphy ran up to his
defense attorney, hugging him tightly, slapping his back and giving
him a kiss. Tears streaming from his face, he hugged and kissed
everyone who would let him.

"I cannot say enough for what they have done to give me my life
back," Murphy said.

He said he hopes to one day be able to sit down and talk with
his daughters.

"I want to start the healing process," he said. "Let's not
forget that my family is in turmoil right now."

Murphy's daughters and prosecutors left the courthouse without
commenting. Prosecutors did not immediately return a message from
The Associated Press seeking comment.

Murphy, 56, had long denied the allegations. He said they were
based on resentment and a dispute over money.

The jury deliberated about two hours before returning its
verdict in the monthlong trial.

"You can never fully repair his reputation," defense attorney
Rusty Hardin told jurors during closing arguments. "But you can
take that first step in righting an injustice."

Hardin claimed the women were lying and the charges against the
former Houston Rockets star were fabricated. Murphy faced three charges
of indecency with a child and three charges of aggravated sexual
assault.

"The bottom line in this case is you have to figure out who you
believe," prosecutor Paula Storts told jurors.

She called Murphy "a master of manipulation."

"He concealed from his own wife for more than 20 years that he
has four other families," she said. "He's a liar. He's a cheat
and he's a child molester."

Murphy could have faced five years to life in prison for the
aggravated offenses and two to 20 years for the indecency
violations.

Prosecutors say Murphy tried to maintain a public image of
having only one family, even though he has 14 children with nine
women. He only married one of the women, according to prosecutors,
and accepted her children. They said his children with the other
women were told not to call him "Dad."

Hardin urged jurors not to let the way Murphy lived his life to
influence their verdict.

"Don't be sidetracked by a lot of these issues," he said.
"These are fabricated charges."

Defense attorneys say three of the five women who accused Murphy
have been trying to claim $52,408 in death benefits left in a
Teacher Retirement System of Texas account belonging to their
mother, Phyllis Davidson. Murphy had a 20-year relationship and
four children with Davidson, who died in a car accident in 1996.

This year, the three daughters continued their grandmother's
earlier protests over Murphy receiving the benefits. He was listed
as the account's beneficiary, according to court records.

On Feb. 20, letters went to Murphy, his three daughters and
their grandmother saying that Murphy was the account's rightful
beneficiary.

A month later, Murphy, 56, was arrested and charged with sexual
abuse and indecency with the five daughters, including three with
Davidson.

Murphy was drafted in 1970 by the San Diego Rockets, who moved
to Houston the following season. He quickly became a fan favorite.
His 17,949 points were a franchise high until Hakeem Olajuwon
passed him.

Known as the "Pocket Rocket" because of his small stature,
Murphy missed just nine free throws -- and made 78 straight in one
stretch -- in 1980-81 for a record single-season percentage of .958.

Following Monday's verdict, Hardin indicated Murphy would like
to return to basketball. In September, he was dismissed from his
job as a television analyst for the Rockets.

Rockets senior vice president Tad Brown said the team was
pleased Murphy had been cleared and would re-evaluate his future at
the end of the season.