WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - A former middle school teacher broke into tears in West Palm Beach courtroom Thursday, when a jury returned verdicts in her animal abuse trial. After deliberating for five hours, jurors found Allison Dinsmore not guilty of both counts of felony cruelty to animals.
Dinsmore, who taught special needs students at Congress Middle School in Boynton Beach, potentially faced up to five years in prison on each count.
Dinsmore had testified an ex-boyfriend stalked her and was sometimes violent, so she avoided her Boca Raton apartment.
Eventually Dinsmore said her life became so "consumed" with fear and school, she lost track of time and stopped feeding the animals. A necropsy showed the cats could have been dead for a few weeks.
After the not-guilty verdicts, the former teacher's father, Robert Dinsmore, blasted the State Attorney's Office, School District, and media. He promised lawsuits against them all.
"It is because of you that these people in the State Attorney's Office felt the necessity to prosecute my daughter as a felon," said Robert Dinsmore, addressing reporters outside the courtroom. "I will never forget it. And this is not over."
Asked if Allison bore responsibility for the cats deaths, Mr. Dinsmore replied, "Of course she does. It's very, very unfortunate."
But he said his daughter was placed in a circumstance where her life was in danger, and she was abused to the point she couldn't think straight.
"It has taken us a year to get to a point where she can function again,' said Mr. Dinsmore. "It's going to take an additional year because of this trial."
Following the hearing, lawyers scurried Dinsmore out a side door, to avoid the media.
The lead prosecutor on the case, Assistant State Attorney Phil Wiseberg, said, "While we don't necessarily agree with their verdict, I can definitely respect what jurors did."