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Issues of fact in molestation suit against father

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a motion of summary judgment by a father accused of molesting two of his adopted sons when they were children. The appellate court found a genuine issue of material fact as to whether his wife's conduct upon learning about the molestations amounted to collusion with the father in concealing the molestation.

In Frederick William LaCava v. Daniel LaCava and Geoffrey LaCava, No. 49A04-0808-CV-451, Frederick LaCava argued claims by Daniel and Geoffrey LaCava were barred by the statute of limitations and that in the absence of expert opinion regarding the son's claims of repressed memory, their complaint can't withstand summary judgment.

Daniel and Geoffrey claimed Frederick molested them as boys until the late 1980s and they repressed memories of it until 2005 when they found child pornography stored on Frederick's computer. They filed suit in 2005 against their father, after the two-year statute of limitations for them to have filed once they became adults expired.

As children, they told their mother Elizabeth about the abuse and she asked Frederick to leave, and they later divorced. She never reported the abuse to the authorities and allowed them to continue to see their father unsupervised. She even told them to keep quiet about the molestations when it came out Frederick molested two foster children in their home.

In her affidavit, Elizabeth claimed Daniel and Geoffrey spoke about their molestations before 2005. Their brother Andrew said in his affidavit that Geoffrey confronted their father in 1999 about the abuse in front of Andrew.

Daniel died before the motion for summary judgment was filed.

Although the statue of limitations had passed for Geoffrey and Daniel to file their suit based on their ages, the doctrine of fraudulent concealment can estop a parental defendant from asserting the statute of limitations when he has, by deception or violation of duty, concealed from the plaintiff material facts preventing the plaintiff from discovering the potential cause of action, wrote Judge Margret Robb. Frederick claimed the doctrine doesn't apply because there's no dispute Elizabeth knew about the molestations in 1989 and her knowledge should be imputed to Daniel and Geoffrey.

The appellate court found there to be a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether Elizabeth's conduct when she learned about her son's molestations amounted to collusion with her husband in concealing the molestation from Daniel and Geoffrey, wrote the judge.

There is also an issue of fact as to whether Daniel and Geoffrey remembered the molestations before 2005 based on conversations they had with others.

The appellate court also ruled that based on Doe v. Shutls-Lewis Child and Family Services, Inc., 718 N.E.2d 738, 745, (Ind. 1999), Daniel and Geoffrey will need expert testimony to ultimately prevail on their claims. The trial court denied their request for a third extension of time in order to have Geoffrey evaluated by a psychiatrist and get an expert opinion on their repressed memories claims. However, the Court of Appeals held that testimony isn't required at this stage of the case. Judge Robb wrote in a footnote that Daniel didn't meet with an expert before his death, so although his claim should withstand summary judgment, it would be appropriate to voluntarily dismiss him from this litigation.

The Court of Appeals remanded for further proceedings.

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  1. Falk said “At this point, at this minute, we’ll savor this particular victory.” “It certainly is a historic week on this front,” Cockrum said. “What a delight ... “Happy Independence Day to the women of the state of Indiana,” WOW. So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)

  2. congratulations on such balanced journalism; I also love how fetus disposal affects women's health protection, as covered by Roe...

  3. It truly sickens me every time a case is compared to mine. The Indiana Supreme Court upheld my convictions based on a finding of “hidden threats.” The term “hidden threat” never appeared until the opinion in Brewington so I had no way of knowing I was on trial for making hidden threats because Dearborn County Prosecutor F Aaron Negangard argued the First Amendment didn't protect lies. Negangard convened a grand jury to investigate me for making “over the top” and “unsubstantiated” statements about court officials, not hidden threats of violence. My indictments and convictions were so vague, the Indiana Court of Appeals made no mention of hidden threats when they upheld my convictions. Despite my public defender’s closing arguments stating he was unsure of exactly what conduct the prosecution deemed to be unlawful, Rush found that my lawyer’s trial strategy waived my right to the fundamental error of being tried for criminal defamation because my lawyer employed a strategy that attempted to take advantage of Negangard's unconstitutional criminal defamation prosecution against me. Rush’s opinion stated the prosecution argued two grounds for conviction one constitutional and one not, however the constitutional true threat “argument” consistently of only a blanket reading of subsection 1 of the intimidation statute during closing arguments, making it impossible to build any kind of defense. Of course intent was impossible for my attorney to argue because my attorney, Rush County Chief Public Defender Bryan Barrett refused to meet with me prior to trial. The record is littered with examples of where I made my concerns known to the trial judge that I didn’t know the charges against me, I did not have access to evidence, all while my public defender refused to meet with me. Special Judge Brian Hill, from Rush Superior Court, refused to address the issue with my public defender and marched me to trial without access to evidence or an understanding of the indictments against me. Just recently the Indiana Public Access Counselor found that four over four years Judge Hill has erroneously denied access to the grand jury audio from my case, the most likely reason being the transcription of the grand jury proceedings omitted portions of the official audio record. The bottom line is any intimidation case involves an action or statement that is debatably a threat of physical violence. There were no such statements in my case. The Indiana Supreme Court took partial statements I made over a period of 41 months and literally connected them with dots… to give the appearance that the statements were made within the same timeframe and then claimed a person similarly situated would find the statements intimidating while intentionally leaving out surrounding contextual factors. Even holding the similarly situated test was to be used in my case, the prosecution argued that the only intent of my public writings was to subject the “victims” to ridicule and hatred so a similarly situated jury instruction wouldn't even have applied in my case. Chief Justice Rush wrote the opinion while Rush continued to sit on a committee with one of the alleged victims in my trial and one of the judges in my divorce, just as she'd done for the previous 7+ years. All of this information, including the recent PAC opinion against the Dearborn Superior Court II can be found on my blog www.danbrewington.blogspot.com.

  4. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  5. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

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