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Case Result

First Degree and Second Degree Child Molestation: Not Guilty After Trial

First Degree and Second Degree Child Molestation: Not Guilty After Trial

A 59-year-old man was accused by his adult nephew of child molestation. The nephew, age 33, accused his uncle of molesting him on a monthly basis when the man was between the ages of 10 and 15. Based solely on the nephew’s allegations, the uncle was arrested and charged with multiple counts of first and second-degree child molestation. The man retained Rhode Island Criminal Defense Lawyers, John L. Calcagni III and Frank L. Orabona, Esq. to defend him in this matter. The attorneys first represented the man in Rhode Island District Court, where at arraignment, the uncle was held without bail pending the outcome of an evidentiary bail hearing.   At this hearing, Attorney Calcagni vigorously cross-examined the nephew to shed doubt on the veracity of his claims. Attorneys Calcagni and Orabona also prepared a robust bail package for the Court’s consideration that outlined the man’s lack of criminal history, steady employment, ties to the community, ongoing relationship with his nephew over the years, and weaknesses in the prosecution. Based on these collective factors, the Court released the man on surety bail with the added condition of home confinement.

The uncle was eventually indicted with the child molestation charges in Rhode Island Superior Court. He maintained his legal team, led by RI Child Molestation Defense Attorney John L. Calcagni, III. After more than one year of pretrial investigation, discovery, and investigations, the man rejected the State’s offer to resolve his case with a guilty plea and lengthy jail sentence, and instead elected to proceed to trial.

The man exercised his right to trial by jury. The State called three witnesses: the nephew and his two female friends whom he told about the alleged sexual abuse prior to his report to authorities. The women testified consistently about this at trial. The State’s main witness was the nephew, who indicated that his uncle began molesting him at age 10. It began with a conversation about the nephew’s interest in girls and if he had ever masturbated. He then claimed his uncle taught him how to masturbate, and from there, they regularly masturbated each other, and also performed mutual oral sex on one another. The nephew claimed this pattern of abuse occurred at least monthly over the course of five years. He came forward after all of this time because he feared that his uncle was about to become a foster parent or guardian to two young children in the family. He feared for the children’s safety and claimed he came forward for their protection to prevent them from falling into his uncle’s custody.

Cross-examination of the nephew was conducted by Attorney Calcagni. Topics of inquiry included the delayed report of close to 20 years, lack of witnesses or physical evidence to the claims, and lack of any suspicion by other family members that anything inappropriate ever occurred between the nephew and his uncle. Attorney Calcagni also questioned the nephew about his ongoing, voluntary relationship with the uncle during his late teenage years and continuously into adulthood. This included home visits, sleepovers, road trips, and vacations, watching movies and sporting events, playing video games, smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol, attending NFL football games, and sharing holidays, birthdays and other celebrations. In the past few years leading up to the allegations, the nephew asked his uncle with help getting him a job at the uncle’s employer, a sheet metal manufacturing company.

The uncle assisted him in this regard causing the nephew to the land the job. From there, they worked together every day, sometimes even commuted together, on a full-time weekly basis and often even worked together during overtime. They worked side-by-side or across from each other all day long, alone, in a sheet metal shop. At no time did any of their coworkers or supervisors ever notice or suspect anything out of the ordinary between the men. Aside from the above, Attorney Calcagni confronted the man on the many inconsistencies contained in the multiple versions of events he provided police, prosecutors and even the jurors at the time of trial. Attorney Calcagni even dismantled the man’s alleged motive for coming forward and introduced another motive, in that the uncle refused to use his power with their boss to have another employee fired who had a secret affair with the nephew’s girlfriend leading to a break-up of their relationship.

Once the State rested its case, the Defense called the uncle’s sister to testify. As the mother of the complaining witness, she testified how her son has lived with her for his entire life. At no time did he ever say anything negative about his uncle or her brother. He also never seemed to avoid being in his company during family functions or communicating with him. He never expressed any hesitation about going to work with him or on vacations or to events such as football games.

The mother regularly observed her son interact with her brother and never even suspected anything out of the ordinary between them. She described her son as someone who spent more time with his uncle than he did as a child and once learning to drive and getting a car went to his uncle’s home, to include sleeping over, as often as possible. The mother testified she was completely shocked and surprised by her son’s claims. The weekend her brother was arrested, she was out of town. She called her son to ask for help in locating his uncle and determining why he was arrested. She testified that he promised to do so, purported to make unsuccessful efforts throughout the weekend she was away, and never admitted to her his accusations to police, which prompted the arrest. Following the presentation of evidence and closing arguments of counsel, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty to all charges against the man.