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Serna found not guilty of aggravated sodomy

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Posted: January 31, 2008 7:06 p.m.
Updated: February 15, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Serna found not guilty of aggravated sodomy

Dr. Juan Serna


    Jurors deliberated about an hour and a half Thursday, following a three-hour deliberation Wednesday, before reaching a verdict in the trial of a Georgia Southern University associate professor accused of sexually assault a student.
    The jury found Dr. Juan Serna, 46, not guilty of aggravated sodomy, but guilty of sexual battery, possession of a dangerous drug, and furnishing alcohol to underage persons.
    Bulloch County Superior Court Judge William Woodrum deferred sentencing until early February, and approved a request by Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Daphne Jarriel to revoke Serna's bond until then.
    Serna showed little emotion when the verdict was read, and spoke with his sister in Spanish afterward, handing over his personal belongings before being escorted from the courtroom by Bulloch County Sheriff's deputies.
    The victim was present in the courtroom with his parents to await the verdict. When Bulloch County Clerk of Courts Sherri Akins published the jury's verdict, the victim's mother broke into tears. His father comforted them both as the victim began crying as well.
    Serna was accused of using "Amsterdam Poppers," a chemical labeled as amyl nitrate but tested by Georgia Bureau of Investigation chemists as alkyl nitrite, an illegal drug, to aid his advances towards the victim.
    The victim testified Serna waved the drug under his nose and it rendered him unable to speak and resist Serna's advances. Two other witnesses, who did not know the victim, testified Serna offered the same chemical to them in 2003,  and described similarities in the way Serna invited them to his home and showed them pornography in what they felt was an effort to have sex with them.
    The victim testified Serna did the same thing to him in 2005, months before a party April 28/29 when the sexual assault occurred.
    A third witness, also a former student, testified against Serna as well, describing events taking place in Costa Rica during a class trip.
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