MARIETTA, Ga. — A woman was found innocent Friday of kidnaping and mistreating children in the underground network she set up to help youngsters flee fathers who allegedly abused them.
A Cobb County Superior Court jury deliberated three hours before acquitting Faye Yager, 44.
Yager cried and hugged supporters who watched the four-week trial. She said she plans to continue her network, which she says has hidden about 500 child victims of sexual abuse and satanic worship.
Chief Assistant Dist. Atty. Jack Mallard said the verdict would not affect his work.
"We're not going to shy away from prosecuting those who abuse children, whether it's a parent or whether it's someone representing the children," he said.
Yager was charged with kidnaping, cruelty to children and interference with custody in her 1990 handling of two Florida children, Alecia and Jarrod Watts, who were 8 and 10 at the time.
She testified that the children's mother, Myra Watts of Merritt Island, Fla., who said she was fleeing an abusive husband, gave her permission to question the children during a four-day stay in Atlanta.
Watts claimed Yager held the boy for two hours without her permission. The children testified that Yager yelled at them and called them liars. They said they fabricated stories of abuse by their father so Yager would return them to their mother.
After the verdict, some jurors hugged Yager and told her children, "Take care of your mom."
Vickie McLean, who works to locate missing children, left the courtroom sobbing. Earlier, she had distributed flyers about the disappearance of two children she said might be in Yager's network.
The jurors heard from 55 witnesses and watched hours of videotape, including Yager's questioning of the Watts children.
Yager testified last week that her own experience with an ex-husband who abused her daughter in the early 1970s moved her to start the network.