Skip to comments.Sex Abuse Convictions Overturned on Appeal
Posted on 04/04/2011 4:33:08 PM PDT by Behind Liberal Lines
ROCHESTERA state appeals court has overturned sex abuse charges against an Ontario County man and ordered a new trial.
In doing so, the court also admonished the Ontario County District Attorneys office for improper comments made during trial.
In a decision released Friday (April 1), the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, ruled that Richard M. Wildricks rights were violated when the Ontario County Court refused to issue subpoenas for the school records of one of his alleged victims, an underage boy.
That refusal, the court held, denied Wildrick his right to a fair trial because the prosecution had elicited testimony from the boys mother about the childs school behavior in an attempt to prove that Wildrick had sexually that child. Furthermore, the court noted, the mother had testified to regular contact with the school about the child during the time period at issue in the case.
Therefore, the court reversed the sex abuse convictions and ordered a new trial.
in making the decision, the appeals court also admonished the prosecution for making improper comments as part of its summation. According to the court, the district attorneys office had exceeded the bounds of proper advocacy by making statements to the jury not supported by the trial record. These statements, the court held, included speculation about Wildricks mental state and opinions that one of his victims had withheld information about the case for fear of being perceived as homosexual.
These, and similar, comments, the court ruled,improperly inflamed the jury.
We thus take this opportunity to admonish the people that... above all [a prosecutor] should not seek to lead the jury away from the issues by drawing irrelevant and inflammatory conclusions which have a decided tendency to prejudice the jury against the defendant
Wildrick was represented on appeal by Batavia attorney Bridget Field. The office of Ontario County District Attorney R. Michael Tantillo represented the prosecution.