The below case results were obtained by Attorney Tom Pavlinic while working independently as well as jointly with the Group’s local co-counsel. These cases include not-guilty verdicts, dismissed charges and negotiated pleas attained for prior clients who were facing sexual assault or sexual abuse charges. While the future result of your case cannot be predicted, and not all of our cases have had desirable outcomes, we hope that a review of the below cases illustrates the level of sex crimes criminal defense experience that would be brought into your case.
Below are cases involving clients who have consented to Tom’s sharing factual summaries of their cases.
Confronted With Overlooked Exculpatory Evidence, Prosecutor Dismisses All Charges
Court: Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County
Case Name: State v. L.K.
Lead Counsel: Thomas A. Pavlinic
Co-counsel: Thomas C. Mooney
Dismissal Date: September 18, 2020
Result: All Charges Dismissed
Our client and his wife had a daughter, M. In 2018, when M. was 5 years old, the parents separated. Unbeknownst to the father, the mother was taking pictures of their daughter’s private areas after every visit with her father.
In April 2019, in the middle of the divorce litigation, the mother offered the photos as exhibits claiming they were evidence of sexual abuse. The judge enlisted the services of an experienced CPS social worker. The worker interviewed M who said that no one had abused her. The social worker also concluded that the photos depicted poor hygiene, not sexual abuse.
Undeterred, the mother continued to take photographs of her daughter’s private area. Even though she had her daughter seeing multiple therapists, sometimes two on the same day, it appears that she never informed them of her practice. In November 2019, mother claimed that her daughter said her father had sexually abused her. The same social worker interviewed M a second time, but the mother did not disclose the existence of the new photos. Mother obtained a protective order prohibiting contact with M and her father. Then she gave the new photos to the worker.
The worker had the photos reviewed by an independent forensic nurse and a pediatrician board certified in child abuse. They both concluded that the photos were evidence of poor hygiene, not sexual abuse. The worker “unsubstantiated” the findings in her January 2020 report as M could not provide a credible account of the alleged abuse.
The State arrested our client in February 2020, and indicted him on 11 major felony charges the following month, including sex abuse of a minor, rape and various related sex offenses. When the State initiated these charges, the assigned prosecutor wrote that she had no knowledge of the photos or the exams, even though this information was explicitly laid out in the social worker’s detailed report.
After conducting our due diligence review of the evidence, we uncovered not only the existence of this exculpatory (Brady) evidence, but also other discovery violations. One glaring example is the designation of Dr. K. who was going to testify “as an expert in pediatric emergency medicine and child abuse.” The details required by Maryland’s Discovery Rule 4-263(d)(8) were not included.
We initiated a joint Zoom call with the doctor, his counsel and the prosecutor. During that call, the doctor unequivocally stated that (i) he never talked to any representative from the State or law enforcement, (ii) these are not his areas of expertise, and (iii) he was not retained to provide those opinions. He had no evidence whatsoever that benefited the State. Further, because his physical exam was normal in every respect, we designated him as a defense witness.
We summarized the evidence in a detailed memorandum to the prosecutor and asked her to objectively determine whether this case should continue when the State’s own evidence establishes it should not. If she disagreed, we wanted a meeting for all of us with the State’s Attorney and any attorneys involved in the screening, or presentation of this case to the Grand Jury.
On September 18, 2020, just 10 days after receiving our memorandum, the prosecutor entered all 11 charges nolle prosequi (dismissal) in open court!
Jury Finds Client Not Guilty of Sexual Abuse of a Minor and Sexual Offense in the Third Degree
Court: Circuit Court for Montgomery County, MD
Case Name: State v. JK. J.
Lead Counsel: Thomas A. Pavlinic
Judge: Richard E. Jordan
Trial Dates: March 2-5, 2020
Result: Jury Verdict – Not Guilty All Counts
JK, Our client, was born in Haiti. As a young man, he experienced the poverty, illiteracy, suffering and political corruption of the island. He arrived in the United States on refugee status in 1994 at age 24.
After a series of menial jobs, he landed a position with the Federal Government in 2002. He had an adult daughter before he married in 2004; he fathered 5 children with his wife.
Because of his experience in Haiti, JK wanted to help others. In 2010, he established a small church to minister to members of the Haitian community and other immigrants in Washington metropolitan area. Even though he and his family did not have a lot of money, he reached out and assisted those who had even less.
One of the families that he helped was a co-worker from Haiti that he had known since 1998. She and her then 6-year-old daughter began attending the church, when it was founded in 2010. The evidence established that between 2010 to December 31, 2014, the daughter visited JK and his family and stayed overnight at their home, according to her own words, “50 times.”
The daughter testified that she told her mother that JK “touched her boobs and vagina” on New Year’s Eve 2014, and that they called JK, who came over and “apologized” the next day. JK denied that this New Year’s Eve encounter and New Year’s Day confrontation ever took place. Between 2014 and 2019, the now 16-year old complainant and her mother continued to attend the church, visit his home and stay overnight.
JK testified that he was made aware of the accusations for the very first time in May 2019, when he met the complainant’s mother at a local McDonald’s to discuss some of the behavioral problems her daughter was exhibiting. The complainant said that she told her therapist in January 2019 of the alleged 2014 abuse.
JK was arrested in June of 2019 and charged with one count of sexual abuse of a minor, a felony, carrying a maximum penalty of 25 years, and one count ofnthird degree sex offense, an additional felony carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The advisory guideline range for these offenses was 5 to 10 years active incarceration.
At trial, the complainant said that JK touched her breasts, her vagina and then her breasts again. Cross-examination of the complainant, her mother and the detective established a host of inconsistencies.
The mother was confronted with a statement that she gave to CPS that made no mention of any touching of the vagina and refuted that the client had “made an apology.” The detective’s testimony was important because, according to the complainant, “grandma” was present” on the evening of the alleged abuse. The independent evidence, however, established through passport entries that grandma did not even arrive from Haiti until February 7, 2018.
The complainant’s testimony was further contradicted by testimony from her best friend and the audio statement her brother gave to law enforcement. The defense presented additional testimony from JK’s adult daughter, wife, 2 teenage children, a family friend, her teenage daughter and another person whom the defendant helped. JK took the stand and testified effectively on his own behalf.
During the trial, the defense tried to admit testimony about the complainant’s behavior, but the judge would not allow it. In the mother’s own statements to CPS, she detailed that her daughter had once been an obedient child and good student. However, she began cutting school, lying, stealing, meeting older men on the Internet and attempting suicide on two occasions. In addition, the mother testified that her daughter was “trying to destroy me and anyone helping me” by making allegations that her own mother was unstable, and that she should be “put in the nuthouse.” The court would also not admit evidence of a “sting call” that did not result in JK’s making any inculpatory statements.
The defense argued its closing in a PowerPoint presentation that focused on the complainant’s contradictions and JK’s strong character, stable marriage and steady employment. The jury deliberated less than 2 hours before finding JK Not Guilty on both counts. A sweet victory for a decent human being.
Case Dismissed for Maryland Man Charged with Sexual Abuse of a Minor and Sexual Offense in the Second Degree
Court: Circuit Court for Baltimore County, MD
Case Name: State v. Michael S.
Lead Counsel: Thomas A. Pavlinic
Date: November 04, 2019
Result: Case Dismissed
Our client is a 20-year member of the U.S. Navy who was only weeks away from retirement when his girlfriend’s 16-year-old daughter made an allegation that he sexually abused her for 3 years between 2011-2014, when she was 10-13 years old. Because of the allegations, Michael’s retirement from the Navy was held up, and he was indicted on state criminal charges, including sexual abuse of a minor and second degree sexual offense.
As part of our due diligence investigation, Michael and I worked closely to establish a timeline. Michael was a hands-on client who assisted in every way he was asked. It was an impossibility for the alleged abuse to have to have occurred for 2 of the years as he was deployed to Germany that entire time. Further, when he returned to the States, the complainant was living with her mother in California, and he was in Virginia.
Our investigation also revealed that the complainant made allegations against her biological father as well as some of her brother’s friends. These allegations were also investigated by the Navy. Once the Navy investigation was terminated, we were able to access all of the exculpatory information.
Without the benefit of counsel, Michael made the decision to give long interviews with both Navy investigators and the Baltimore County Police Department. Fortunately, though, he made no admissions that the State could have used against him. We were worried that some of his comments may have been ambiguous, and law enforcement is prone to putting a prosecution-oriented spin on such statements.
We faced a number of hurdles in the case because the complainant lived with her mother in California. Mother was also an active member of the U.S. Navy and not subject to State subpoena power. Had the case proceeded to trial, we would have had to follow the Touhy procedure that the military requires before its personnel can be asked to appear in civilian court.
Fortunately, we were dealing with an objective and ethical prosecutor. We first provided him with all of the deployment records. We then followed up and furnished the Navy’s investigative file. After the prosecutor reviewed all of the information and talked to his potential witnesses, he opted to dismiss the case. That was done on November 4, 2019.
Michael has since been able to retire with an honorable discharge from the Navy. We will follow through and have all of the records pertaining to the State prosecution expunged.
Military Father Not-Guilty of Sexual Abuse
Military Court, Maryland
Military Counsel: LT S.Y.W
Civilian Counsel: Thomas A. Pavlinic
Date: March 04, 2019
Result: Not Guilty on All Charges and Specifications
Our client had a daughter, M., with his then girl friend before joining the military. Shortly after he enlisted, he married and had 2 daughters. He and his family tried to have M. visit with them during some of his out-of-country tours, but they were unsuccessful for logistical reasons related to housing and interim deployments. The first long-term visit was for M. to come for the summer, spend the 2012-2013 school year and return to Puerto Rico.
In October 2015, a minor argument between M. and her father escalated to her alleging that he choked her. She left the house and moved in with her boyfriend and his family who lived four houses down the street, because she “felt safe.” Her father and her mother did not approve of this relationship. In early 2016, M. accused her father of sexual abuse.
M claimed her father molested her on a weekly basis from December 2012 through January 2015 in residences she shared with her stepmom and 2 sisters. She testified to this abuse even though she visited with her mom in Puerto Rico and voluntarily returned 5 times. Her mother and extended family came to the mainland on 2 occasions, to celebrate Thanksgiving and her high school graduation. M also testified she continued to live with her dad for 10 months after the alleged abuse ended.
State law enforcement refused to charge our client. The military, though, filed charges and specifications against him just as he was ready to retire. Court-martial proceedings began March 4, 2019. The government called M., her ex-boyfriend and his parents as fact witnesses. It also called two experts, one to talk about counter-intuitive behavior of alleged victims of sexual abuse and a strangulation expert.
The evidence presented by the government was so inherently weak, that the defense rested without offering any evidence whatsoever. After closing arguments, the jury members deliberated for just two hours before finding our client not guilty on all charges and specifications.
On Appeal, Department of Human Services is Directed to Expunge “indicated report” of Child Sexual Abuse from ChildLine
Court: Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania Department Of Human Services Bureau Of Hearings And Appeals
Case Name: C. G., Jr. In re: B. G.
Lead Counsel: Thomas A. Pavlinic
Co-counsel: Lori A. Yost
Date: December 2018
Result: Appeal Sustained, Expungement Ordered
This case is different from those that we normally handle as it was an administrative appeal from the agency’s intention to add our Client’s name to an internal listing of sexual abusers as a result of a finding of indicated child sexual abuse. At the time, a criminal investigation was pending, but there were no criminal charges.
Our Client and his first wife, T., had two children: C. and B.G. (the “complainant”), born 2000 and 2003, respectively. E. and Er., born 2003, are twins that the Client had from his relationship with S.
In 2004, the Client began serving a jail sentence as a result of his conviction of a sexual offense against a minor. (This conviction had nothing to do with the instant case. It stemmed from a voluntary interaction with an under-aged teen.) While incarcerated, the Client received frequent visits from the complainant; he was released in 2010.
After his release, the Client used the time between 2010-2015 to adapt to civilian life and re-establish contact with his children. In March 2015, he moved into an apartment. While living at that residence, he received regular visits from his son, the complainant, E. and their friends.
The Client met his current wife, J., in April 2016, moved in together and subsequently had a son. When J. announced she was pregnant, B.G. made threats to other family members about killing the unborn baby. Shortly thereafter, B.G. moved out but maintained frequent contact with her father before she initiated her complaint.
The issue of abuse arose on September 23, 2017, when the complainant told her sister, E., who in turn immediately told J. Two days later, on September 25, 2017, the complainant gave a formal statement to the Child Advocacy Center (“CAC”). B.G. alleged repeated incidents of graphic sexual abuse, some of which were to have occurred in the presence of others. Surprisingly, though, even after the allegation was made, the complainant continued to contact the Client for financial assistance.
The weaknesses of the Agency’s case were obvious from the very outset. B.G.’s testimony at the hearing was not only replete with inconsistencies, but also contradicted by other family members. Her own siblings disputed her accusations. When the Administrative Law Judge wrote up his opinion, he detailed those contradictions in a comparison chart. The Agency’s tactic of trying to use our Client’s prior conviction backfired.
After the conclusion of a 3-day evidentiary hearing, the parties submitted written briefs framing the issues and arguing the facts and the law. The Administrative Law Judge’s opinion fully supported our Client, and he prevailed on appeal. In short order, law enforcement closed its investigation without bringing any criminal charges.
After Extensive Pre-Trial Investigation and Depositions, Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Dismisses Sexual Abuse Charges
Court: St. Louis County
Case Name: State v. T. R.
Lead Counsel: Thomas A. Pavlinic
Co-counsel: Joseph M. Hogan
Date: August 2018
Result: All Charges Dismissed
T. R. (our client) and B. G.( his girlfriend) had an on-again, off-again romantic relationship. B. G. lived across the street from G. (the minor complainant) and her mother. G. was an animal lover and often came to B.G.’s house to play with the cat.
According to the police report, G. said that she was at her home on Sunday, March 8, 2015, when B. G. asked her to come out and help her to look for her dog. G. then related that our client and B. G. initially took her upstairs and both had sexual interaction with her. When this incident was reported to the initial investigating officer on March 9, 2015, the complainant clearly and unambiguously stated that the date of the alleged offense was Sunday, March 8, 2015.
During law enforcement’s follow-up visit, the complainant’s mother then said the alleged incident actually occurred on Saturday, March 7, 2015, and not Sunday, March 8, 2015, as originally reported. According to the mother, she believed her daughter’s sexual abuse allegations because the mother did not keep any pornography in the house, and her daughter otherwise had no access to it. Further defense investigation uncovered this was not true.
The police investigation also revealed that the complainant was hospitalized twice since December of 2014 for behavioral issues. She was taken from the school directly to the hospital for in-patient care. The prosecution never attempted to obtain these psychological records because the prosecutors considered them to be “irrelevant,” despite their obvious relevance and importance
Both our client and B. G. were picked up on arrest warrants in the spring of 2015, but they were not formally charged. On August 12, 2015, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office opted not to prosecute either our client or B. G.
In 2017, a different prosecutor issued charges, and both our client and B.G. were formally charged and released on bail. It was obvious to both defense teams that our clients were factually innocent, and all the attorneys formed a tight and focused working relationship at the outset. T.R.’s brother provided the financial backing to ensure an in-depth investigation. Because Missouri is one of the few deposition states (this means that the defense could take formal statements from all witnesses under oath before a court reporter), the defense intensely researched the case to establish a timeline and command of all the facts before the witnesses were deposed. The information that we gained during those depositions was shocking.
We learned that G. was taken from school for hospitalization because she threatened to harm her teacher and fellow classmates. Her mother could not remember any of the incidents and claimed not to have any knowledge of the doctors, medications, therapists or diagnosis. From G. we learned that she had access to pornography through an app on her phone and that she had killed two of her pet lizards. There was also evidence of G. leaving her baby sitter’s care and hiding outside with no coat or shoes in frigid temperatures.
There were multiple contradictions between the statements that the G. first gave to law enforcement, then at the depositions we took and finally at the depositions taken by B.G.’s defense counsel. There were also substantial discrepancies and inconsistencies between G.’s various accounts and those testified to by her mother. Moreover, the testimony of one of the investigating police officers directly contradicted G.
Further depositions were taken of all of the other fact witnesses designated by the state. As the defense was gearing up for a contested motions hearing and trial, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office voluntarily dismissed all charges against our Client and B.G. in August 2018.
Military Specifications Against Army Officer Dismissed Due to Statute of Limitations
Military Counsel: MAJ Kevin M. Adams
Civilian Counsel: Thomas A. Pavlinic
Date: March 23, 2018
Result: All Specifications Dismissed
In 2017 a high-ranking, retired Army officer was accused with 6 specifications of having sexually abused his daughter between 1983 and 1989. The complainant did not make a report to the military until 32 years later in January 2015, when she was 44 years old.
During the course of the investigation, the discovery which was provided by the government showed multiple, major contradictions in the complainant’s statements.
At an Article 32 hearing (the equivalent of a preliminary hearing in civilian court) the presiding judge recommended that 4 of the specifications be dismissed. Despite the court’s recommendation, the government referred all 6 to a general court-martial. (Commanders in the military court have discretion beyond civilian prosecutors.)
At pre-trial motions, the first 3 specifications were dismissed by the trial court, as was previously recommended at the Article 32 hearing. The court also found that the referral of specification 4 for court-martial was defective and solicited further rationale from the government to substantiate this offense.
While preparing for a July 2018 general court-martial, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the military’s highest tribunal, in an unrelated case, overturned years of military decisions and held that the statute of limitations for an alleged rape committed before 2008 was 5 years. Since the prosecution in this case did not begin until 2015, the court granted the defense’s motion for dismissal, thereby ending the prosecution against our client.
Client Facing Sexual Abuse Allegations in Two States Found Not-Guilty by Jury
Court: Cobb County Superior Court
Case Name: State v. C.W.
Lead Attorney: Tom Pavlinic
Co-counsel: Corinne Mull
Judge: C. LaTain
Date: May 15, 2017
Result: Jury Verdict – Not Guilty on All Counts
Our client was charged in Cobb County Georgia in a 3-count indictment with the following offenses: Child Molestation as a result of allegedly touching a child’s vagina and breasts (Counts 1 and 2, respectively) and Cruelty to Children in the First Degree based upon the alleged touching causing extreme mental pain (Count 3).
While visiting her grandmother and our client (Client) in August 2015, the 11-year old complainant reported to her grandmother that Client made her feel uncomfortable when he gave her a back rub. Client had known the complainant since 2009, when he and the grandmother began their relationship. Evidence at trial established that Client had given the complainant backrubs for many years, and the grandmother described her granddaughter as a “backrub freak.”
When the grandmother returned the complainant to her parents in North Carolina, new allegations surfaced. Now the complainant – for the very first time – alleged that Client had touched her vaginal area during a vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina a year earlier in the summer of 2014.
The parents took the complainant to a therapist who reported the allegations to law enforcement. As part of the investigation, the complainant and her grandmother gave video interviews that were provided to the defense in discovery. Client was first arrested at his home in North Carolina and extradited to Georgia and then arrested in Georgia and extradited to South Carolina.
Jury selection began on May 9, 2017, and testimony started the following day. The State called 7 witnesses in the following order: mother, father, complainant, the interviewer, therapist, grandmother and investigating detective. Although our client was only on trial in Georgia for conduct that allegedly occurred in that jurisdiction, the State was able to introduce statements regarding the conduct that allegedly occurred in South Carolina as “propensity evidence.” Cross-examination of the state’s witnesses brought out inconsistencies in the complainant’s testimony and also established the implausibility of the South Carolina allegations. At the conclusion of the State’s case, a defense motion for directed verdict as to Count 1 was granted.
The defense presented the testimony of 6 witnesses: South Carolina defense counsel, Client and 4 character witnesses, including Client’s friend of 50 years, his son and 2 former wives. The testimony of South Carolina defense counsel was crucial because it permitted argument during closing that no action had been taken in South Carolina, and Client had the constitutional right to defend himself in that jurisdiction as well.
The case went to the jury on Monday, May 15, 2017, around lunch time. After several hours, the jurors sent a note saying that they were hopelessly deadlocked. Nevertheless, the judge ordered them to return the following morning and continue deliberations. After a total of 8 hours over 2 days, the jury entered Not Guilty verdicts to both remaining counts on May 16, 2017.