Rubashkin Acquitted in Iowa Child Labor Trial

The Des Moines Register reports:

Waterloo, Ia. – Former Agriprocessors Inc. executive Sholom Rubashkin was found not guilty Monday of all 67 misdemeanor child labor charges against him…

State prosecutors alleged Rubashkin allowed minors to labor up to 90 hours per week, wield large powered saws and knives, and work around bleach and dry ice.

The defense argued that company policy and the firing of some minors reflected Rubashkin’s desire to keep children from working at the plant and that minors had tricked the company with false documents.

Rubashkin’s defense team repeatedly reminded the jury that the evidence had to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Rubashkin “intentionally, deliberately and knowingly” allowed children inside Agriprocessors, not just that they worked there.

Jury foreman Quentin Hart, a Waterloo city councilman, said the legal bar ultimately proved too high for the state. The evidence did not provide a clear line between Rubashkin and the alleged hiring of minors to work at the plant, he said.

The testimony of the young workers served as a key tipping point, he said. For weeks, fresh-faced Guatemalans and Mexicans told the jury that they had lied about their identities and had presented false documents to get jobs at the slaughterhouse.

“Each one of them indicated they didn’t tell the truth, and indicated they knew they had to be over the age of 18 to get a job, so they acquired documentation from somewhere else,” Hart said.

The case was unprecedented in the number of charges brought in a child labor case. In 2008, the state charged five company officials each with 9,311 child labor violations.

The state whittled the list to 83 charges in May, in part to make the cost and length of the trial more manageable. The judge dismissed another 16 counts last week when the state didn’t bring five witnesses listed on the complaint to testify…

Rubashkin…[is] facing sentencing June 22 for federal financial fraud.

The former executive’s legal troubles started two years ago when federal immigration agents raided his family’s slaughterhouse and arrested 389 workers.

The New York Times story is here:

The former manager of a kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa that was the site of a 2008 immigration raid was acquitted on Monday of criminal charges that he knowingly employed under-age workers at the plant.

After a five-week trial in state court in Waterloo, Iowa, the jury rejected prosecutors

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