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Legislature intended to make failure to report child abuse a continuing offense

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A high school coach’s failure to report child abuse is a continuing offense to which the statute of limitations does not apply, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

The COA affirmed the trial court’s denial of a motion to dismiss the charges in Marybeth Lebo v. State of Indiana, 46A05-1202-CR-104.

Lebo, who was the varsity volleyball coach at LaPorte High School, was charged with failing to report child abuse after her assistant coach, Robert Ashcraft, was convicted of multiple sex crimes against a minor student athlete. In her appeal, she argues, in part, the charges are barred by the statute of limitations.
 
As an alternative, the state argued that the crime of failure to report is a continuing offense. Therefore, the statute of limitations did not begin to run until Oct. 23, 2010, when the LaPorte County Prosecutor’s Office received the investigation report from the Indiana State Police.

The court agreed. Despite the absence of the terms “continuing” or “continuous,” the statute does state that the obligation to report is not relieved until a report has been made to the best of the individual’s belief.

Writing for the majority, Judge Cale Bradford stated, “To permit an individual with a duty to report to avoid prosecution for failure to report because that individual’s failure was not discovered within 730 days does nothing to protect a child who may still be the victim of abuse on day 731 or beyond.”

In a separate opinion, Judge John Baker dissented from the majority’s view that the Legislature indicated a clear intent to make failure to report child abuse or neglect a continuing offense. He found that any intent of the Legislature is ambiguous.

“I am sensitive to the fact that if someone fails to make a report, child abuse or neglect could continue for every day that the report goes unmade,” Baker wrote. “However, we must also be reminded that the person who has ‘reason to believe’ that child abuse or neglect has occurred and fails to report that abuse or neglect is not the person inflicting harm on the child. Yet the statute of limitations does not fail to apply to those who commit heinous crimes against children.”


 

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  • COA
    The court of appeals presumes it is their job to rewrite legislation like the supreme court does the constitution!
  • Puppy Poop
    Did she really know before the conviction? Did he do it on the volleyball court?

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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