Roger Clemens Acquitted of Perjury Charges

Steven Goldstein@@GoldsteinNUContributor IJune 18, 2012

Facing a lengthy perjury case brought on by the U.S. government, former MLB righty Roger Clemens was found not guilty of all charges Monday afternoon, USA Today reports.

Clemens, who pitched for four clubs in his 24 year career, was on trial for six felony accounts of perjury, false statements, and obstruction of Congress. The charges stemmed from statements made in 2008, in which he denied use of performance-enhancing drugs in the wake of a Congressional report filed by former Senator George Mitchell.

Trial testimony spanned eight weeks and featured over 40 witnesses, including Clemens' wife, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, and pitcher Andy Pettitte. Pettitte, a former teammate of Clemens and an acknowledged friend, initially testified to having a conversation with the seven-time Cy Young winner about human growth hormone usage, only to later "conflict" his statement last May.

Brian McNamee, Clemens' former strength coach, testified before a House of Representatives committee that he injected the 11-time All-Star with steroids and human growth hormone on multiple occasions from 1998 through 2001. Clemens, however, told the same committee that McNamee injected lidocaine, a common painkiller, and vitamin B12 instead.

Back in July 2011, the case was postponed as a mistrial due to an error in evidence presentation on behalf of the prosecution. Now, nearly a full year later, a verdict was delivered by a panel of eight women and four men.

Clemens faced up to 30 years in prison and a hefty $1.5 million fine. Today, he walks out unscathed.

McNamee and the prosecution produced a needle from 2001, allegedly containing both Clemens' DNA and traces of steroids. Clemens' defense team attacked McNamee as a witness who lacked credibility, also noting that Congress overstepped its boundaries in investigating the pitcher and the rest of Major League Baseball.

The decision comes as Clemens prepares to face Hall-of-Fame eligibility. With a career earned run average of 3.12 and over 350 wins, Clemens is one of the sport's most decorated and accomplished athletes. But speculation of performance-enhancement darkened his Cooperstown chances.

Now, where does Clemens and the rest of the "steroid era" stand? Last year, former Pittsburgh Pirate and San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds avoided a majority of his perjury charges, and now "the Rocket" comes away clean as well. Will Clemens' ruling quell rumblings of a tainted era in baseball? Will it clear the reputations of countless other players charged in the famous Mitchell Report?

Check back with Bleacher Report for continued updates and analysis on Clemens' acquittal.

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