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High court splits on molestation conviction

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The Indiana Supreme Court was divided Wednesday in an opinion regarding whether a man could be charged with Class C felony child molesting 16 years after he last molested his stepniece.

Jeffery Sloan was convicted of Class A felony and Class C felony child molesting of his stepniece nearly 20 years after the last time he molested her. During the molestations when she was between the ages of six and 13, he told his stepniece that she should not tell anyone and that she would go to jail if she did. After 1991, the victim, M.A., began having less contact with Sloan, and she finally told her stepfather in 2007 about the molestations. She reported the molestation to the authorities in 2008.

Sloan filed a motion to dismiss his Class C felony charge, claiming it was filed well after the five-year statute of limitations. The Class A felony charge is not subject to a statute of limitations. The state argued Sloan committed acts of concealment which tolled the statute of limitations. The court denied his motion, and after he was convicted on both charges Sloan tried to have the judgment vacated, claiming double jeopardy violations. That motion was also denied and he was sentenced to 46 years.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed his Class C felony conviction, holding that tolling ends under the concealment statute when the defendant’s acts of concealment terminated, not when the victim tells authorities about the crime. It claimed under the concealment-tolling provision of Indiana Code 35-41-4-2(h)(2), the concealment ended in 1991 when the molestations ended and Sloan and his victim had less contact with each other.

But in Jeffery Sloan v. State of Indiana, No. 18S04-1009-CR-502, the majority of justices disagreed, citing Crider v. State, 531 N.E.2d 1151 (Ind. 1988), and I.C. 35-41-4-2(h)(2).

“The tolling provision affords a bright-line rule: once concealment has been found, tolling ends when evidence sufficient to charge the defendant becomes known to the prosecuting authority if that authority could not have discovered the evidence by the exercise of due diligence. Crider interpreted Indiana Code section 35-41-4-2(h)(2) accordingly,” wrote Justice Steven David for the majority. “In cases where threats or intimidation of a victim amount to concealment, the means by which a prosecuting authority becomes aware of sufficient evidence is often through the victim’s disclosure to that authority.”

The majority held once concealment is found, the relevant inquiry is when the prosecuting authority becomes aware or should have become aware of sufficient evidence to charge the defendant, and at that point, tolling ends and the statute of limitations begins to run.

Justice David noted that a strict reading of I.C. 35-41-4-2(h)(2) could toll the statutes of limitations for many other crimes, and that courts will still need to determine whether concealment exists in the first place.

On this matter, Justice Frank Sullivan dissented to which Justice Robert Rucker concurred. Justice Sullivan found himself in an “intermediate” position between what the majority held and how the Court of Appeals ruled.

“I do not agree with the Court of Appeals that once the defendant ceases threats and intimidation, the statute begins to run. Here the majority is most persuasive in pointing out that a victim may be too scared to report a molestation long after any specific threats or intimidation have ended,” he wrote. “In my view, the statutory tolling period should cease at the point in time when the victim no longer reasonably fears material retaliation or other adverse consequences from a defendant’s threats or intimidation.”

He believed it was clear that more than five years had passed since the time the victim ended reasonably fearing material retaliation or adverse consequences for reporting the crimes.

The majority also addressed Sloan’s double jeopardy claims, finding the state established that Sloan committed two separate criminal offenses based on distinct facts. They upheld his convictions and sentence.
 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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