Sex Crimes Cases Results

Jury Finds West Virginia Magistrate Judge Not Guilty of Sexual Abuse

State: West Virginia
Court: Harrison County Circuit Court
Case Name: State v. M.G.
Lead Attorney: Tom Pavlinic
Co-counsel: Belinda Haynie
Judge: Thomas W. Steptoe Jr.
Date: July 5, 2016

Result: Jury Verdict – Not Guilty on All Counts

The History

Our client was a 46-year old Magistrate Judge with 2 older children when he met the mother (to be referred to as “Mother”) of the complainant in 2000, who had a 9-year old son and a then 4-year old daughter, the complainant (to be referred to as “Complainant”). In 2003 our client, along with his daughter, Mother and her 2 children moved in together. When our client (to be referred to as “Client”) and Mother married in 2005, she was employed by the prosecutor’s office.

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Not-Guilty Verdict After Conviction Overturned on Appeal

State: Kansas
Court: Labette County District Court
Case Name: State v. R.C.
Lead Attorney: Tom Pavlinic
Co-counsel: Melanie S. Morgan
Judge: Jeffry L. Jack
Date: May 01, 2015

Result: Jury Verdict – Not Guilty on All Counts

When our client was only eighteen years old, he started dating a girl who had two young daughters, then ages one and two. They had an on-again off-again relationship for a number of years. In 2007, they purchased a home together, and the daughters moved in with them permanently. Shortly after moving in together, both daughters accused him of having sexually abused them. Although they made allegations of sexual touching, they both denied any penetration. At first, the girls’ mother supported him, but she then turned against him.

Law enforcement did not conduct a very thorough investigation and moved forward primarily on the girls’ allegations. Our client was arrested and went to trial in August 2009. As part of its evidence at the 2009 trial, the prosecutor presented the testimony of a nurse who displayed photographs of both girls’ hymens and testified that they were obliterated. She also displayed pictures of normal hymens, leaving the jury with the impression that there must have been some abuse. Our client was convicted, sentenced to 14 years and required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He served almost four years before his conviction was overturned on appeal. The court released him on an increased bail pending the second trial.

Efforts to resolve the case without a second trial were not successful. The defense offered to accept a plea to time served. The state demanded a sentence of 9 years. Our client rejected the state’s offer and went to trial.

In 2016, Tom was brought in by our client and his family to serve as co-counsel at the retrial — nearly 6 years after the charges were first brought. He worked with one of the original attorneys who had tried the case in 2009, Melanie Morgan, who was very effective in cross-examining the investigating agent at the second trial and exposing the lack of any meaningful investigation. It was obvious when the cross examination was complete, that there had been a rush to judgment.

In addition, the defense took a different approach with the evidence. Since the medical evidence (obliterated hymens) did not comport to the girls’ allegations (touching but no penetration), we brought in a gynecologist who testified that there must have been some penetration, and that the medical evidence was not consistent with the allegations. The defense then displayed the evidence used by the state in its first trial, but not utilized in the second. Tom and Melanie pointed out to the jury that it was the defense who presented the medical evidence that was collected by the state.

There was some evidence that the mother accused a member of her family of abuse. This testimony was not admitted at the first trial but was in the second. As part of the criminal investigation, the social worker and the investigating law enforcement officer recorded video statements from each of the girls, all of which were played for the jury at trial (for over 1.5 hours) despite the girls’ having testified. The defense included a Power Point presentation in its closing argument that outlined all of the reasonable doubt generated by not only the evidence but also the lack of evidence. The jury deliberated less than two hours before finding our client not guilty of all counts.

Not-Guilty Verdict Despite Prosecution’s Character Attack

State: Maryland
Court: Circuit Court for Frederick County
Case Name: State v. J.B.
Lead Attorney: Tom Pavlinic
Judge: Theresa M. Adams
Date: February 24, 2015

Result: Jury Verdict – Not Guilty on All 6 Counts

The State charged our client with 5 counts of second degree rape, 2 counts of second degree sex offense, 1 count of third degree sex offense and 1 count of assault. One count of rape and the third degree sex offense and assault counts were dismissed prior to trial.  The only plea offer the state made was 40 years with all but 20 years suspended.  Because the charges are deemed to be crimes of violence under Maryland law, the client would have had to serve a minimum of 10 years before even being eligible for parole.  The plea was rejected.

The case lasted 5 full days and presented some challenging issues for the defense.  Before retaining counsel, the client gave a 2-hour video interview with law enforcement.  During the interrogation, he lied about taking pictures and his past association over many years with the complainant who had a limited IQ.  The evidence also established that he was married and having an affair with the complainant’s mother.  During closing argument, the defense readily conceded he lied to the police, committed adultery and  displayed morally objectionable behavior,  This conduct, though, did not make him a rapist.  Three solid character witnesses testified as to his being peaceful, kind and non-violent.  The jury returned its not guilty verdicts on all counts after 7 hours of deliberation.

Not-Guilty Verdict After Two Previous Hung Jury Trials

State: Texas
Court: 380th Judicial District Court (Collin County)
Case Name: Texas v. C.D.
Lead Attorney: Tom Pavlinic
Co-counsel: Heather Barbieri
Judge: Keith Dean
Date: March 2014

Result: Not Guilty (Jury Trial) ALL COUNTS

Our client was charged in Collin County Texas with nine counts of Indecency with a Child through sexual contact, which are second degree felonies each carrying a potential sentence of a minimum of two to a maximum of twenty years of incarceration.

The facts were nothing short of bizarre.  His stepdaughter accused him of touching her breast one time and her vagina one time in 2003 for “a few seconds” when she was 7 years old.  The alleged abuse stopped completely for three years until the family moved into a new home.  She then said that there were additional incidents of touching that lasted only seconds when she was between 11 and 15. In the first two trials, the specific incidents were not tied to any specific year or date.  She reported the abuse in 2011, when she was 15 years old, and her mom and stepfather were arguing about divorce.

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Facing 35-Year Sentence and Lifetime Registry: All Charges Dropped

State: Kentucky
Court: Nelson Circuit Court
Case Name: Kentucky v. D.O. Jr.
Lead Attorney: Tom Pavlinic
Co-counsel: Julie M. Kaelin
Judge: John D. Seay
Date: October 2013

Result: All charges dropped prior to trial.

D.O. is the 42-year-old biological father of K.G.O, who was 4 years old at the time the allegations arose.  In the midst of a custody/visitation dispute and related domestic court involvement, K.G.O. claimed D.O “pinched and kissed her vagina”.

As a result of the allegations, he was charged with 4 felony offenses including First Degree Sexual Abuse and First Degree Sodomy. He faced a maximum of 35 years of incarceration and life-time reporting on the Sexual Registry.

Aggressive investigation and representation was undertaken including a pretrial challenge and hearing regarding the competency of the child, where we asserted that her claims were the result of suggestibility or taint induced by the natural mother. Kentucky does not legally recognize the concept of “suggestibility”, but psychological expert testimony was obtained and presented. Although the Court ruled in favor of the State, the Judge indicated he had “grave concerns” about the truthfulness of the child.

Motion filing, investigation and probing analysis continued between motion hearings and trial.  At the time of jury selection, all charges were dropped by the State.  Furthermore, we were able to obtain a court order that mandated D.O. would regain the partial custody of his daughter he had before the charges were filed, after a suitable period of supervised visitation.

Facing 20-Year Mandatory Minimum Sentence: No Megan’s Law Plea

State: Pennsylvania
Court: Warren County Common Pleas
Case Name: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Kelly P.
Lead Attorney: Tom Pavlinic
Co-counsel: Robert C. Greene
Judge: Gregory J. Hammond
Date: August 2013

Result: Guilty plea to a single misdemeanor with no Megan’s Law registration

In a 10-count criminal information, our client was charged with sexual molestation of a child age 10-14. The accuser was age 24 when the accusations were brought forth. The charges carried a potential 94-year maximum sentence including a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence.  After exhaustive investigation, witness interviews and the retaining of a DNA expert, a plea bargain was reached to plead to a single misdemeanor count with a sentence range of probation to 3 months, and most significantly no sexual registry. Our client was sentenced to four years of probation.

State’s Expert Discredited; Inconsistencies of Child Witness Revealed

State: West Virginia
Court: Putnam County, WV
Case Name: West Virginia v. Roger D.
Lead Attorney: Tom Pavlinic
Co-counsel: Matt Clark
Judge: Philip Stowers
Date: April 2013

Result: Not Guilty (Jury Trial) ALL COUNTS

Our client was charged with Sexual Abuse in the First Degree; Sexual Abuse by a Guardian,Custodian or Person in a Position of Trust; and Use of Obscene Matter with Intent to Seduce a Minor. This was a huge victory in Putnam County, West Virginia for a number of reasons.

First, the judge in the criminal trial had presided over custody issues in family court. After hearing the evidence in that proceeding, he issued written findings of fact that Roger had sexually abuse his step-daughter continuously over a 5-year period. He refused to recuse himself, and the WV Supreme Court said he did not have to. Second, the judge refused a misdemeanor plea with lifetime sexual registration, saying that the plea was too lenient. Roger was facing 50 years and lifetime supervision over and above the registration. Third, the judge permitted the prosecution to call a previously undisclosed expert with only 2 days notice and would not grant a continuance. He said we could get our own expert – never imagining that we could and did! Fourth, the State paraded all its usual witnesses from law enforcement and the Child Advocacy Center. We were able to point out inconsistencies in the child’s testimony that were created solely through the State’s own evidence. The case began on Monday and the jury returned Not Guilty verdicts on all counts on Wednesday evening after nearly 6 hours of deliberation.