Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Clemens Acquitted on All Counts Seven-Time Cy Young Award Winner Makes Congress Swing and Miss Again

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Clemens Acquitted on All Counts Seven-Time Cy Young Award Winner Makes Congress Swing and Miss Again

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Give Roger Clemens one more victory, one that offers validation -- at least in a legal sense -- to the 354 games he won as one of the most accomplished pitchers in baseball history.

Instead of hugs on the mound from teammates, this one wrapped up with hugs from his family in the courtroom, with Clemens' wife dabbing his moist eyes with a tissue. It was a courthouse shutout for The Rocket vs. the government of the United States: acquittal Monday on all half-dozen counts that he lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

"I put a lot of hard work into that career," said Clemens, who had to stop and collect himself and fight back tears as he spoke to reporters outside the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, a few blocks from the House office building where he testified four years ago. "And so again I appreciate my teammates who came in and all the emails and phone calls. Thank y'all very much."

A trial that lasted into a 10th week produced less than 10 hours of jury deliberation over several days, capping an expensive, five- year investigation that is now another blow to the government's legal pursuit of athletes accused of illicit drug use.

Clemens, 49, was charged with two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing Congress when he testified at a deposition and at a nationally televised hearing in February 2008. The charges centered on his repeated denials that he used steroids and HGH during a 24-year career with the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays and Astros that produced a record seven Cy Young Awards.

"I hope those in the public who made up their minds before there was a trial will now back up and entertain the possibility of what he has always said -- using steroids and HGH is cheating and it was totally contrary to his entire career," said Clemens' lead lawyer, Rusty Hardin.

After the jury foreman uttered "not guilty" for the sixth and final time, Clemens teared up, and one of his lawyers, Michael Attanasio, put his arm on the former pitcher's back. Clemens bit his lower tip, and rubbed a tear off his eye.

"Mr. Clemens, you're free to go," U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said.

Family members and lawyers took turns hugging each other. Clemens and his four sons -- two teenagers and two young adults -- gathered in the middle of the courtroom, arms interlocked, like football players in a huddle, and sobbing could be heard. Then Clemens kissed his wife, Debbie, who had testified for him in the case.

Clemens did not take questions after his brief statement outside. The jury of eight women and four men declined comment through a court spokesperson.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia issued a statement thanking the jury and stating respect for the judicial process. …

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