PORT CHARLOTTE — One year after his arrest, Odell Lorenzo McGhee is a free man.
A Charlotte County jury acquitted the 39-year-old Port Charlotte resident on Tuesday, finding him not guilty of two counts of sexual battery by custodian with the victim between 12 and 18 years old.
“I’m feeling like myself again,” said McGhee, a self-employed worker, speaking to The Daily Sun on Wednesday afternoon.
Scott Weinberg, McGhee’s defense attorney, said the jury took approximately 43 minutes to come back with a verdict of not guilty.
“A very quick not guilty, and that means a lot,” Weinberg said Wednesday.
He added the relatively quick jury vote pointing to the relative strength of the defense’s presentation versus that of the prosecution.
McGhee was arrested for the two charges last October. The complainant, whose parent is McGhee’s partner, first made allegations against McGhee to a school resource officer at Port Charlotte High School, who in turn contacted the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.
The complainant alleged McGhee coerced the young teen into several sexual acts between 2014 and 2019. The complainant contacted authorities at the age of 18.
“My client has denied these allegations from the beginning,” Weinberg said. “I think it’s important to point out that people are innocent until proven guilty.”
McGhee originally retained a different lawyer, Tauna Bogle, prior to his arrest, who declined to comment publicly on the case. Weinberg took over the defense in December 2020.
“I just believed in Scott,” McGhee said.
McGhee was originally held on $500,000 bond, and remained in the custody of CCSO from October 2020 to January 2021. He was later assigned a reduced bond and was able to be released, albeit with the restriction that he not leave Charlotte or Sarasota County.
McGhee said he is still together with the complainant’s mother, and the complainant no longer lives with them. He added the accusation has devastated his family, both immediate and extended.
McGhee isn’t sure what happens next.
“I’m not worried about the future, I’m just happy for today,” he said.
The State Attorney’s Office gave a short statement after the case.
“We respect the jury’s decision,” it said.