For a California man attending last year’s Buses by the Bridge event, things may have seemed dire. Amid accusations that he inappropriately touched a 13-year-old girl, an angry mob had already formed by the time police arrived.
Chadwick Whitworth, 29, of Rocklin, was tried last week on charges of aggravated assault against a minor, and acquitted by a jury of his peers. According to Scottsdale-based defense attorney Omer Gurion, the situation at the time of Whitworth’s arrest may have been complicated, but the accusation was simple.
According to police, the 13 year-old victim was attending 2018’s Buses by the Bridge gathering, and a member of her family invited Whitworth to join them. The victim alleged that Whitworth approached her, and laid his hand on her thigh. The victim told her father what Whitworth had allegedly done, the police report said – and a mob of about 40 people, allegedly led by the victim’s father – formed shortly afterward.
By the time officers arrived, Whitworth was detained by a lone security guard at the event, after Whitworth had allegedly been kicked in his face by one of the mob’s members.
According to Whitworth’s attorney, the incident erupted from a misunderstanding among festival attendants and the alleged victim.
“It was a case where a person perceived something that didn’t happen … the accusation snowballed, and suddenly the victim’s family and about 40 people were attacking (Whitworth),” Gurion said. “It didn’t happen – that was our theory when we cross-examined the state’s witnesses. I’m very grateful that the jurors didn’t find my client guilty. I’ve truly believed he was innocent from the get-go, and their acknowledgement of that is a vindication of that belief.”
Whitworth had no prior felony offenses in the state of California or Arizona prior to his 2018 arrest.