B-ball Legend Murphy Acquitted

image AP

A jury cleared Hall of Fame basketball player Calvin Murphy on Monday of all charges accusing him of sexually abusing five of his 10 daughters more than a decade ago.

As soon as the acquittal was announced, Murphy shook his attorney Rusty Hardin's hand and wiped away the tears that welled in his eyes.

After the jury was dismissed, Murphy hugged Hardin, slammed his hands against his back and kissed him.

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," 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 Rocket were fabricated. He faced three charges of indecency with a child and three charges of aggravated sexual assult.

"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."

Testimony in the trial ended last week after Murphy testified in his own defense. He tearfully denied the allegations.

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.

  • David Hancock

    David Hancock is a home page editor for CBSNews.com.

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