An Iowa child labor case that gained national attention because of the more than 9,000 violations brought against a slaughterhouse manager has resulted in a total of zero convictions, after the former Agriprocessors Inc. manager was found not guilty of all charges Monday.
Sholom Rubashkin, who faced 9,311 child labor charges stemming from an immigration enforcement action 2008 – a number gradually whittled down to 67 misdemeanors before an Iowa state court in Waterloo – was acquitted after prosecutors were unable to persuade the jury that Rubashkin “intentionally, willingly and knowingly” hired minors at the Postville, Iowa-based plant.
Rubaskin’s five-week trial included testimony from dozens of former Agriprocessors employees, many of whom said they were illegal immigrants with false documents showing they were 18 or older at the time they were hired at the slaughterhouse. The jury foreman told the Des Moines Register that the testimony of the state’s witnesses, some of whom prosecutors had flown in for the trial from Mexico and Guatemala, as what convinced the jury Rubashkin could not have known he was hiring minors.
Prosecutors also had alleged that Rubashkin overworked the minors – allowing them to work as much as 90 hours a week – and placed them in dangerous conditions, using power saws and knives and surrounded by bleach and dry ice.
Rubashkin remains in prison awaiting sentencing after being convicted on 86 counts of bank fraud in Iowa federal court inNovember. Sentencing was delayed until after the conclusion of the state trial and is now scheduled for June 22.
Agriprocessors, once the nation’s largest producer of kosher meat, has collapsed as a result of the May 12, 2008 federal raid of the Postville plant.