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Judges uphold molestation convictions

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man's convictions of child molesting because it agreed the victim's recantation of the allegations weren't worthy of credit.

In Mario Martinez v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-0905-CR-289, Mario Martinez argued the trial court should have granted his motion to correct error and ordered a new trial after W.M., his 12-year-old victim and niece, recanted her story that Martinez molested her several years earlier.

W.M. first reported the molestation when she was 10 years old to facilitators of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's Body Safety Program. She later told the same story to a child forensic officer at IMPD and while on the stand at Martinez's trial. After he was convicted of one count of Class A felony child molesting and two counts of Class C felony child molesting, W.M., by private counsel, filed a motion to intervene and set aside the jury verdict. She gave a deposition to her attorney that Martinez hadn't molested her and she made it up because she was mad at him for hitting her a few years earlier. Neither the state nor Martinez's counsel were notified or present during the deposition.

As a result of the deposition, Martinez filed a motion to correct error because the recantation was newly discovered evidence that warranted a new trial. The trial court denied the motion, finding the recantation wasn't worthy of credit.

On appeal, Martinez argued the state is required to designate new evidence in the form of affidavits to counter W.M.'s recantation; the state had designated W.M.'s pretrial interview and pretrial deposition, which is sufficient to counter her post-trial version of events, wrote Chief Judge John Baker.

Just as in Best v. State, 418 N.E.2d 316, 319 (Ind. Ct. App. 1992), the trial court was correct to deny Martinez's motion for a new trial. W.M.'s recantation first occurred in a private deposition outside of the presence of anyone representing the state, wrote the chief judge. Her story was consistent until after her uncle was convicted and she overheard her parents say he could be sentenced to 50 years in prison. It was also possible W.M. recanted her story due to her mother's fears her marriage would fall apart because of the conviction and her mother was being ostracized in her community.

Under these circumstances, the appellate court can't say the trial court abused its discretion by finding W.M.'s recantation wasn't worthy of credit and denying Martinez's motion for a new trial.

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  1. I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

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  4. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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