Thursday, November 2, 2006
From freep.com: Wayne State University School of Law CrimProf David Moran discusses the Free Press Review that found new evidence in the case of kindergarten teacher James Perry sexually assaulting two boys in his school.
The prosecution's case was based almost entirely on the contradictory accounts of boys who were 4 and 5 in October 2005, when authorities determined the assaults occurred. That's an age where experts say children are susceptible to suggestion, and courts are often skeptical of their ability to separate truth from fiction.
The review found:
• Police never questioned three instructors in a special-education classroom where the assaults allegedly occurred. All three now say the crime could not have occurred there because the classroom was occupied at all times that day by students and at least one teacher. Prosecutors have argued consistently that the assaults took place in an empty classroom during lunch.
• In court testimony, an Oak Park detective told jurors he recognized Perry from a previous case. The jury never was told that Perry was cleared in that case, has no criminal record and previously had never been charged with anything.
• Contrary to the advice of counselors, the boys' mothers repeatedly questioned the boys -- on at least one occasion together -- about the attacks. Experts say such questioning, even if well-intentioned, can taint or influence the accounts of young children.
• During the six-day trial, Perry wore a global-positioning tether that was clearly visible to jurors. Perry's trial lawyer never objected to the device, which is usually hidden to avoid an implication of guilt.
Moran said doubts about where the crime occurred weakened the case and the prosecutor's credibility. "That argument is an insult to the intelligence of the judge," Moran said."When you prove that it happened in a specific place and new evidence proves that it couldn't have happened there, that not only undermines the location, it undermines whether it happened at all."
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]