Sean Williams, a former Uber driver from Brooklyn, was found not guilty of kidnapping a 15-year-old girl he picked up from a Sweet 16 party in Atlantic Beach in the summer of 2019 at Nassau County Court Thursday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A former Uber driver was overcome with emotion Thursday after Nassau jurors found he hadn't kidnapped a 15-year-old girl he picked up from a Sweet 16 party in Atlantic Beach in 2019.

"Thank you, everyone! Thank you, everyone!" Sean Williams told them before going to his crying mother's side and collapsing in her arms.

The Nassau County Court jury deliberated about four hours before clearing Williams, 34, of Brooklyn, of felony kidnapping charges and a misdemeanor unlawful imprisonment charge. They convicted him of a child endangerment charge that has him facing up to a year in jail.

"It feels like I can actually move on with my life now," Williams told Newsday in between embraces with his mother, Mitcheel Williams, and his attorneys, Jason Russo and Steven Gaitman. "...Without God, nothing is possible. With God, everything is possible."

Gaitman said the defense previously stayed on "the sidelines" and turned down a national TV appearance about the case in favor of waiting for evidence to come out in court.

"We waited a long time and we are very grateful and pleased with the result," he added.

The verdict followed testimony Wednesday from Williams’ teenage passenger, who said her encounter with him was the scariest time of her life.

"I didn't know if I was going to get home that night," she told jurors.

Now 18, the college freshman testified Williams kept asking her to get drinks after she said she was underage, canceled the route to her Merrick home and drove to Brooklyn instead. Newsday isn't publishing her name because it was alleged she was the victim of a sexually-motivated crime while a minor.

The Nassau district attorney’s office alleged Williams picked her up at The Sands Atlantic Beach on July 12, 2019, before "hitting on her" and asking her to get dinner and drinks after she told him she was too young to drive.

Prosecutors said Williams canceled the Uber route in Long Beach before heading toward his home in Brooklyn, asking questions of the teenager that made it clear that he wanted sex. But the prosecution also said the teenager was "clever enough to keep her cool" and escaped Williams, who they alleged intended to sexually assault her.

Williams pulled over at a McDonald’s on Linden Boulevard in Brooklyn after the teenager said she had to use the bathroom. She then went inside and called 911.

Defense attorney Jason Russo contended during the trial before acting State Supreme Court Justice Howard Sturim there was a miscommunication and the passenger agreed to get dinner and perhaps a drink with Williams before changing her mind. He said Williams assumed she was at least 18 because of Uber age policy for riders who are alone.

"This was the most appropriate and accurate verdict that this jury could reach," Russo said later Thursday.

In his closing argument, Russo called the charges against Williams "a perverse manipulation" of the truth. He said there was a "tremendous amount of reasonable doubt," with the teenager even inventing an exchange with Williams that McDonald's surveillance video showed never happened.

The teenager testified Williams came inside McDonald’s and asked what she was doing before she said she was getting food and that he seemed confused and left.

Prosecutor Matthew Perry said in his closing argument the video didn’t include audio and Williams could have screamed to the teenager from outside. He also argued a figure could been seen on the video peering inside McDonald’s while the teenager looked out in fear.

"She told the defendant she was a minor. She told him he was going the wrong way. He knew what he did. He just didn’t care," Perry added.

A district attorney's office spokesman said after the verdict that prosecutors would defer comment until Williams' March 22 sentencing.

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