VALPARAISO | A Porter County jury deadlocked late Wednesday in a decision on whether a Tennessee man molested a Union Township boy nearly 18 years ago.
Jurors deliberated about seven hours before telling court officials they could not reach a verdict.
Earlier in the day, Terry Hill told jurors he did not repeatedly molest a then-12-year-old boy as charged.
Hill said the alleged crimes from 1995 to 1997 are the result of the inability of the boy's mother to accept her son is gay and her pattern of blaming others.
"I think she's just being vindictive," he said.
Hill's testimony wrapped up the evidence portion of this week's trial. The jury began deliberating in the afternoon.
Hill, 63, faced two felony counts of child molesting, including one that carries a potential penalty of 20 to 50 years behind bars.
The purported victim, who is now a young man, came forward with allegations in 2009 that Hill had sexually abused him up to four times a week at his home in Salt Creek Commons in Union Township. The alleged incidents occurred when he was 11 to 13 years old.
Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek questioned Hill on Wednesday about his response to learning the boy was gay.
"You took advantage of that, didn't you?" she asked.
"No, ma'am," Hill replied.
Polarek challenged Hill's explanation about the young man's mother, saying it does not explain why her son would fabricate the accusations.
Defense attorney Bob Harper suggested the young man came up with the claims in an attempt to persuade his mother to bail him out of jail on a felony drunken driving offense.
Porter County authorities will have to determine if they will attempt to retry the case.