In the Fall of 2019, a jury convicted a man on three counts of first-degree child molestation in Rhode Island Superior Court. The charges against the man were based solely on the word and uncorroborated testimony of a young girl who was the daughter of his former, long-time girlfriend. The man and woman, along with the woman’s two children (the complaining witness and her brother), lived together as a family for approximately 10 years. Once their romance ended and the family began living apart, the man continued to see the children on weekends. He had raised them from young ages and treated them as his own children. They also called him “dad” and looked to him as their real father. As the months passed after the break-up, the man fell in love with another woman. The young girl resented this fact and even complained about it to her mother. She felt her dad broke his promise to her of never finding another woman. Soon after, she refused to visit with him any longer. As more time passed and the girl aged, her behavior changed at home and in school. When challenged about her attitude and behavior at home by her mother, she said that her dad sexually assaulted her. Mom never reported this to police. Approximately two months later, when the girl was similarly challenged about her attitude and behavior by a teacher in school, she again claimed sexual assault. Under mandatory legal reporting requirements, the girl’s comment to her teacher triggered a formal report to Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and Providence Police. This is how and why the man was arrested and eventually indicted in Rhode Island Superior Court. The man retained Rhode Island Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer, John L. Calcagni III, to defend him in this serious matter. The case proceeded to a trial before a jury. The State offered the girl’s testimony against the man, but no corroborating evidence. The girl was cross-examined on her delayed report, coincidental timing of her reports when challenged with disciplinary action at home and in school, the inconsistent versions of events she told her mother, teachers, police, social workers and in court, and her anger at the man, who she believed was her father, when he left her mother and fell in love with another woman. Attorney Calcagni presented the testimony of his client, who testified credibly in his own defense at trial. Notwithstanding, the jury returned guilty verdicts on all charges. Attorney Calcagni then filed a motion for new trial, which the Court denied. He then followed up with a motion for reconsideration, asking the Court to consider again the man’s request for a new trial. After more careful thought and consideration, the Court ultimately concluded that the State failed to prove the man’s guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and that the interests of justice were best served by setting aside the jury’s verdict and ordering a new trial.
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