A former Porter County deputy prosecutor and a member of the Valparaiso City Council faces sanctions from the Indiana Supreme Court for allegedly withholding from the defense that an alleged victim said he had been coached to lie and had recanted allegations of sexual abuse.
The Indiana Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed William Riley to serve as a hearing officer in the discipline case against Trista Hudson. Hudson was fired in July by Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel for failing to reveal that one of two victims fabricated at least part of the accusations against Eric Knowles. Knowles was charged in 2013 with five counts of child molestation, and Hudson prosecuted a Class A felony count against him in 2016 in which the Disciplinary Commission charges “there was no credible evidence.”
Knowles was acquitted last year after being held without bail for three years. After learning of Hudson’s alleged failure to disclose the false testimony to the defense, Porter Judge William Alexa said he would refer the matter to the Disciplinary Commission.
Hudson told the Munster Times after her firing “it was an inadvertent mistake not intended nor meant to be malicious” and said she had a strong ethical track record during her nearly 14 years with the prosecutor’s office.
“We will be answering the complaint in due course and defending against the commission’s allegations,” said Indianapolis attorney Don Lundberg, who’s representing Hudson in her disciplinary case. Lundberg declined to comment further and said Hudson’s comments will be limited to her formal responses to the commission.
The Disciplinary Commission filed a complaint May 17, alleging that Hudson put an alleged victim on the stand to testify after the child recanted the accusation against Knowles, his stepfather. The discipline complaint says the alleged victim told Hudson that his biological father had encouraged him to make up allegations of molestation.
The commission also accuses Hudson of making false statements in reply to its investigation, asserting Hudson’s contention that a colleague in the Porter County Prosecutor’s office agreed with her strategy for dealing with the witness’s recantation and allegations of coaching “is knowingly false.”
Hudson is accused of multiple violations of rules of professional conduct for failing to timely disclose evidence tending to negate Knowles’ guilt and knowingly making a false statement of material fact in a response to the disciplinary commission.