Sean Black represented a man accused of molesting his step-granddaughter. He had raised children of his own as well as the mother of the subject child. He had no significant criminal history and had never been accused of any mistreatment or maltreatment of children. He had continued to have a relationship with his step-daughter even after the divorce. He visited with the step-daughter and her daughter when he was not on the road working construction.
The grandchild brought a note to her mother accusing her grandfather of doing bad things to her. After questioning by the mother and maybe others, the allegations were reported to the police department. The police investigator arranged a forensic interview at a Child Advocacy Center ("CAC"). After the initial interview of the minor child, there was additional questioning by the mother, which led to an additional disclosure and a second forensic interview. During the second interview, the child disclosed that she and her mother had discussed the first forensic interview to make sure everything had been covered.
The sequence of alleged acts did not fit expected patterns of escalating behavior. The criminal investigator did not follow up either interview with interviews of any witnesses who could have provided information about the sequence of events and behavior by the accused or the child. These potential witnesses included a live-in boyfriend of the mother, the child's uncle and a friend of the mother's.
The accused was charged with two counts of child molestation and two counts of first degree child cruelty, where it was alleged that the two alleged touchings caused the child excessive mental pain.
Jury selection began and was completed on Monday of the trial week. Witnesses and evidence were presented on Tuesday and Wednesday. The defense brought in two of the fact witnesses and three character witnesses, including an ex-wife of the accused (the grandmother of the subject child). The fact witnesses made it clear that there was very little opportunity for things to have occurred as stated by the child and that the child's behavior had not been as described in the State's case. The accused also testified. The State played the accused's police interview, where he was interrogated simultaneously by three police officers. Inconsistencies between the child's forensic interviews and her trial testimony were also a significant issue in the case.
Closing arguments and jury instructions took place on Wednesday afternoon.
The jury deliberated on Wednesday evening for about an hour and a half. The jury continued deliberating on Thursday morning, before returning a verdict of not guilty on every count at about 12:30 pm on July 12, 2018.
Sean Black is happy to have helped this defendant obtain justice by not guilty verdicts in this very serious case.