WASHINGTON - Former Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens was acquitted Monday on all six counts in his trial on charges he lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs, ending a 4 1/2-year battle to clear his name.
The jury deliberated for a day and a half before reaching the verdict, which the foreman delivered by reading out loud "not guilty" six times in quick succession, prompting Clemens to tear up as one of his sons sobbed in the gallery.
Clemens, 49, dressed in a beige suit and blue shirt, stood and hugged and thanked each of his half-dozen lawyers. As the jury left and the courtroom emptied, Clemens engaged in a group hug with his four sons.
Outside the courthouse, Clemens thanked his family, lawyers and former teammates who supported him. "It's been a hard five years," he said, "and they've been great, behind Dad and supporting Dad. My wife has been a rock."
At one point, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner and 24-season veteran of the Major Leagues choked up as he said, "And all you media guys who know me and followed my career . . ."
He then recovered and said, "I put a lot of hard work into that career."
Clemens' attorney Rusty Hardin said, "Let me tell you something. Justice won out."
The jury chose not to speak to reporters, a court spokesman said.
The loss was a blow to the prosecutors, who last year caused a mistrial on the second day of the trial, and the Justice Department, which lost another high-profile case, not long after failing to convict former presidential candidate John Edwards on campaign finance charges.
Prosecutors declined to comment on their way out of the courthouse. Later they issued a statement: "We respect the judicial process and the jury's verdict."
The acquittal not only represents a victory for Clemens, but it also raises questions about how both Major League Baseball and Congress handled what has been the significant problem of the use of steroid and human growth hormone in baseball.
Baseball's Mitchell Report of Dec. 13, 2007 -- which first named Clemens as a steroid user -- named players without including their side of the story.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a Feb. 13, 2008, hearing that pitted Clemens against his accuser, Brian McNamee, and then referred Clemens to the Justice Department for a perjury investigation when he denied using steroids and HGH.
McNamee, 45, Clemens' former trainer and strength coach who told federal authorities in 2007 that he had injected the former pitcher with steroids and HGH, was not at the courthouse Monday. McNamee issued no statement.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who convened the 2008 House committee, also said he accepted the jury's decision.
"Truthful testimony before Congress is essential. The committee referred Mr. Clemens to the Justice Department because we had significant doubts about the truthfulness of his testimony in 2008," Waxman said. "The decision whether Mr. Clemens committed perjury is a decision the jury had to make, and I respect its decision."
Clemens' former Yankees teammate Derek Jeter said Monday: "I've always said you have to be careful not to rush to judgment. I'm happy for Rog. I'm happy it's over with."
With Erik Boland
Induct Clemens into Baseball Hall of Fame?
Newsday sports writers who have Hall of Fame votes weigh in on Roger Clemens' candidacy.
DAVID LENNON: YES
"Unless a player has tested positive, or admitted to PED [performance-enhancing drug] use, I still plan to judge them solely on the merits of their playing career. And by that standard, Clemens deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, despite the circumstantial evidence surrounding him."
STEVEN MARCUS: YES
"Given the jury's verdict, the only evidence to be considered by the Hall of Fame voters is Clemens' pitching statistics. Absent any new revelations, that makes him an inductee on the first ballot."
BOB HERZOG: YES
"I vote yes on any accused PED user if his stats are Hall of Fame worthy because I value the history of the game. Those stats count and I don't feel I can ignore them. Not to mention the uncertainty of who did what and for how long."
MARK HERRMANN: NO
"It has been said that being kept out of the Hall of Fame does not mean being prohibited from roaming free in the world. Clemens secured the latter right yesterday. The Hall is a special honor. I see Clemens as an elite pitcher, but one who put too much emphasis on beating the system."