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COA reverses child welfare molestation case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has tossed out the convictions and 106-year sentence of a former Hamilton County child welfare worker accused of molesting two boys, including an autistic boy who he'd mentored.

In a 19-page decision in Cory Heinzman v. State of Indiana, No. 29A04-0710-CR-553, the court ruled 2-1 to reverse and remand the case on its official misconduct aspect regarding one victim.

Heinzman was a Department of Child Services caseworker from 2002 until the accusations surfaced in May 2005. A then-13-year-old autistic boy's mother called a hospital to report that Heinzman had molested her son during an eight-month period, and another teenager came forward after that to make similar accusations. A jury in June 2007 found him guilty on 16 counts of official misconduct and various sexual offenses involving minors and acquitted him of four. Hamilton Superior Judge Daniel Pfleging sentenced him to 106½ years.

The appellate majority didn't find a clear error in the trial court's decision not to sever the trial and that no error existed by not changing venue. But the court found that Heinzman established prima facie error in his convictions of official misconduct regarding the autistic boy, as there was no evidence that he was performing any "official duties" when the offenses against that minor were committed.

Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented, writing a separate six-page opinion that says she'd affirm the convictions and that she departs from her colleagues on the question of whether Heinzman's crimes against that minor relate to the performance of official duties.

She determined the majority improperly reweighed evidence in reaching the result and that the jury believed Heinzman had continued working with the autistic boy's family in a manner related to his Child Protective Services employment throughout spring 2005 when those inappropriate interactions occurred. Checking on the boy's needs fit into those official responsibilities as a family case manager, the judge wrote.

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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