A Lowell Superior Court jury today found a Spring & Spring client not guilty of multiple counts of child rape, indecent assault and battery on a person under the age of 14, and dissemination of matter harmful to a minor. Attorney Chris Spring tried the case.
Our client was indicted after his step-daughter reported he had repeatedly raped her years ago (when she was in elementary school). The step-daughter said our client was responsible for picking her up from school and watching her until her mother came home from work. During the afternoons that our client was babysitting the step-daughter, he allegedly called her into his bedroom, raped her, and showed her pornographic movies.
Our client denied all of the charges against him. He said the step-daughter resented his relationship with her mother and was fabricating the allegations to get him removed from the home. The family had a troubled history and was investigated numerous times by the Department of Families and Children. At one point, the step-daughter was removed from the home and sent to live with a foster home because of her refusal to attend school. Our client’s wife had been hospitalized for mental health problems, including a nervous breakdown. Because the alleged rapes happened so long ago, there was no physical or forensic evidence to corroborate the allegations. There were also no independent witnesses who witnessed any inappropriate conduct on our client’s behalf.
We hired a private investigator to take witness statements and we filed motions in court to obtain the step-daughter’s mental health records. The prosecutor strongly objected to our attempts to receive copies of the step-daughter’s records but a judge agreed we were entitled to view them. Once we received the records, we discovered many inconsistent statements the step-daughter had made to various DCF employees and counselors regarding her relationship with our client. She told one counselor, for example, our client was a good father for her and he would never do anything to hurt her.
The step-daughter testified at the trial. She told the jury our client had repeatedly raped her and provided details about the alleged assaults. However, during cross-examination, Attorney Spring confronted her with the various conflicting statements she had made about our client’s behavior. She was forced to admit that parts of her story had changed over time. After the prosecutor rested her case, Attorney Spring called one of the step-daughter’s counselors to testify she had previously denied the rapes had occurred. The counselor told Attorney Spring she would refuse to testify and Attorney Spring was forced to obtain a court order threatening her with arrest if she did not appear and testify. Ultimately, she provided testimony that was very helpful to the defense. Our client chose not to testify.
After two days of deliberations, the jury found our client not guilty of all charges and he was released from custody. It was the thorough pretrial investigation by the defense team that won this case. If we had not obtained the step-daughter’s mental health records, we would not have known about the prior inconsistent statements. If the jurors did not learn about the prior statements, they might have arrived at a different verdict.