Conceding that they lacked evidence to proceed to trial, prosecutors recently dropped their case against a corporate CEO accused of molesting a 10-year-old girl at a swimming pool. The sex offense prosecution had been hanging over the businessman's head for three years. Unfortunately, even when criminal charges are dismissed or a defendant is found not guilty at trial, the negative consequences often linger on, ruining the accused's personal and professional reputation.
In this case, it turned out that the alleged victim, whose family brought the case in January 2010, indicated just days before trial that she was not willing to come to court and repeat her version of the story. But even while dropping the charges, the prosecution repeated to the media all the details of the initial accusation, containing sordid "facts" that they had admitted they had no hope of proving in a court of law.
The defense attorney was understandably incensed. The defendant's wife and adult children stood by his side the entire time, confident of his innocence and angry that the husband and father had been dragged through the mud. Following the dismissal, the defendant once again denied that the charges had any basis whatsoever in fact, calling the behavior alleged in the charges "stomach-wrenching."
The records of two interviews that investigators conducted with the girl were found to be tainted and were thrown out. The prosecutor later found that the girl's parents refused to cooperate with bringing the case to trial and that an attorney for the girl herself refused to make the child available for further interviews or testimony.
In the end, a sworn statement from the girl was submitted, in which she recanted the original accusations, saying that if called to testify under oath in court, she would deny that any sexual abuse by the defendant took place.
This case demonstrates that even when charges of a sex crime are dropped, defendants suffer immeasurably. This defendant's company nearly went under due to the public case against him; at least now he can focus on resuming his business as he tries to put the accusations behind him.
Source: Star Tribune, "Molestation case dropped against Wayzata executive," Abby Simons, Nov. 5, 2012
• Our firm handles situations similar to the one described in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Wisconsin sex crimes defense page.