Thursday, March 12, 2009

Man accused of 50 counts of rape cleared after girl recants on the stand

COMMENT: A man on trial for fifty counts of rape has been cleared after the girl he allegedly assaulted recanted on the stand and denied that any penetration occurred.

A previous story on this case reported: "Kelly Morrison, a nurse at a child-abuse center operated by Licking Memorial Hospital known as Kids Place, took the witness stand to explain why she diagnosed the girl as a sexual-abuse victim. Under questioning by Bond and defense attorney Kristin Burkett, Morrison said a child might recant because she is, indeed, lying or for deeper reasons. 'There could be love involved; there could be fear involved,' she said."

Indeed, a recantation might be false, but as shown by the state's own witness, a recantation might just mean the child was lying in the first place. So how does the state proceed in the face of this uncertainty? Why does the state try to explain away her recantation -- to roll the dice with a presumed innocent man's life? Just to get a conviction?

Man cleared of charges in rape case

NEWARK -- A jury has cleared a Newark man of all remaining sex charges at the conclusion of a two-day trial.

After about two hours of deliberations, all 12 jurors returned not-guilty verdicts on all five counts of third-degree felony gross sexual imposition against Kevin A. Hunt, 28.

Five counts of rape, a first-degree felony, were thrown out by Common Pleas Judge Thomas Marcelain upon a motion by defense counselors Erin McEnaney and Kristin Burkett after the state rested its case Thursday morning.

One of the rape counts carried a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life because the accuser was younger than 10 at the time.

During the trial, the state, represented by Licking County Assistant Prosecutor Alice Bond, produced testimony from the accuser, who is younger than 13, her mother, her counselor, a nurse practitioner and investigators.

The girl originally had told investigators of as many as 50 incidents of sexual contact and conduct between her and Hunt.

However, on the stand Wednesday the girl lowered that figure to four and denied that any penetration, which is necessary for a rape charge, took place.

The state tried on multiple occasions to explain the girl's change of story as an internal conflict between telling the truth and wanting to protect the defendant.

Hunt, who has been in jail since July 8 in connection with the charges, took the stand on his own behalf and as his side's sole witness to call the allegations "disgusting" and to offer a possible motive on why his accuser would make up the story.

He also described his relationship with the girl and his interview with police.

"I didn't do this, so I couldn't offer a confession," he said of his interview with Newark police Detective Ken Ballantine.