Case Study – Sexual Assault On A Child
A Recent Sexual Assault Trial In Colorado
M.S. (a woman) was charged with sexual assault on a child in a Colorado District Court. She faced a mandatory 10 years in prison, with an upper limit of life imprisonment (called “indeterminate sentence”). M.S. had mentored a troubled young woman from her Christian church who waited two years after the end of the relationship before making her false allegations. The teen’s mother asked M.S., a church worship leader, to mentor the teen. The false allegations resulted from M.S. telling the teen that she needed to cut off the relationship because the young woman was becoming too compulsive about the relationship. The teen was described as very angry at the break up by a defense trial witness. The teen had mild mental health issues and a destructive home life. M.S. lost her job and then her home over these false allegations.
M.S. hired Colorado trial attorney Terry O’Malley for her defense, after losing confidence in another lawyer’s trial skills. We have extensive experience in child sex assault cases (including sexual assault on a child, position of trust sexual assault on a child and pattern sexual assault on a child). Our first step was to identify witnesses of the relationship between M.S. and the teen. We also identified witnesses who were present at locations where the teen alleged sexual contact occurred. Next, we spent days reviewing the specific allegations of sexual contact and developed trial questions showing the impracticability of the specifics. We also employed an expert witness, Kris Newland, to review the allegations of the teen. Ms. Newland treats sexual assault victims, and has a realistic understanding of common characteristics of true victims. Ms. Newland later testified at trial that the teen’s demeanor and disclosure characteristics were inconsistent with that of true victims. The government’s rebuttal expert witness said that any characteristics displayed by an alleged victim are consistent with true victims.
We conducted extensive legal research and then filed several motions with the court in order to limit the prejudicial effect of inadmissible evidence we were sure the government would try and present to the jury. After 18 years, we can anticipate many of the upcoming arguments. The government filed many motions of their own. They tried to prevent our expert from testifying, which the judge rejected after fierce argument. Our motions hearing was very adversarial. All through this sex assault on a child trial, the government tried limiting our evidence and to admit inadmissible evidence. Trial attorney Terry O’Malley fought hard, applying the Colorado Rules of Evidence to the case and won several key admissibility arguments before the court. As the accused, M.S. benefited greatly from each evidence objection and argument before the court. The motions practice is a critical phase in the case where the judge makes rulings in advance of the trial regarding what the jury will hear. Motions continued to be filed throughout the trial, as new issues arose.
In this five-day Colorado sexual assault on a child case, the government had two lawyers versus Terry O’Malley. Both were experienced senior trial attorneys, and one was the elected district attorney. The attorneys took turns filing motions, making objections and helping each other phrase legal arguments to the court. They also had a lead detective sit and advise them with ideas throughout the trial. This waste of government resources and lopsided personnel use are common in serious cases involving false allegations of sexual assault on a child in Colorado. The government has unlimited resources, and the accused must be prepared to fund his or her defense to counter the attack.
At trial, many defense witnesses testified that the teen was untruthful, and that her specific allegations were unlikely to be true based on their presence just before or just after the alleged sexual assault. Many defense witnesses sacrificed time off work and travel across the country to come and testify. It took the cumulative commitment of many honest friends and acquaintances of M.S. to defend her.
The jury deliberated several hours before acquitting M.S. of position of trust sexual assault on a child and pattern sexual assault on a child (both mandatory sentences to the Department of Corrections for an indeterminate sentence). The government did not issue any apology or contribute the cost M.S. incurred in defending herself from these false allegations by the teen. Additionally, M.S. is not able to file a civil case based on these false allegations of sexual assault. This Colorado sexual assault on a child case was one of the most difficult handled by our office due to the double staffing of the case by the district attorney’s office.
It is critical that anyone charged with a Colorado sexual assault or sexual assault on a child charge not speak with the police and contact the O'Malley and Sawyer, LLC, as soon as possible. Any statements to the police or delays in contacting us will affect our ability to defend you. Call us today at 303-731-0719 if you have been charged with any sexual offense or contacted by the police.