HOUSTON – NBA Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy (search) was acquitted Monday of charges he sexually abused five of his 10 daughters more than a decade ago.
As soon as the verdict was read, Murphy shook hands with his attorney and wiped away tears.
Murphy, 56, had long denied the allegations, saying they were based on resentment and a dispute over money. He could have faced five years to life for sex assault charges and two to 20 years for indecency charges.
"I cannot say enough for what they have done to give me my life back," Murphy said outside the courtroom.
He said he hopes one day to be able to sit down and talk with his daughters.
Testimony ended last week after Murphy tearfully testified in his own defense.
"You can never fully repair his reputation," attorney Rusty Hardin told jurors during closing arguments. "But you can take that first step in righting an injustice."
But prosecutor Paula Storts argued that Murphy was "a master of manipulation."
"He's a cheat and he's a child molester," she said.
The jury deliberated about two hours before returning its verdict in the monthlong trial.
Murphy was a Houston Rockets guard from 1970-83 and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993. His daughters said the abuse occurred between 1988 and 1991.
Prosecutors said Murphy tried to maintain a public image of having only one family, even though he has 14 children with nine women. He married one of the women, according to prosecutors, and accepted her children. They said his children with the other women were told not to call him "Dad."
The former basketball star's lawyers said three of the five daughters had been trying to claim $52,408 in death benefits left in a teachers retirement account belonging to their mother, Phyllis Davidson. Murphy had a 20-year relationship and four children with Davidson, who died in a car accident in 1996.
This year, the three daughters continued their grandmother's attempt to stop Murphy from receiving the benefits. He was listed as the account's beneficiary, according to court records.
On Feb. 20, letters went to Murphy, his three daughters and their grandmother that Murphy was the account's rightful beneficiary. The money was never paid.
A month later, Murphy was arrested and charged with sexual abuse and indecency.