A 25-year-old teacher from the Mission Hill K-8 School in Boston was arrested after allegedly indecently assaulting an 8-year-old child at Boston Medical Center over the weekend, according to the Boston Globe.
The teacher, Juan Cortes of Jamaica Plain, was arraigned in the Boston Municipal Court yesterday, where he was charged with one count of indecent assault and battery on a child. The prosecutor requested $10,000 bail, but the judge set bail at $500. If the defendant posts bail, he will be required to wear a GPS monitoring device, abide by a curfew, and have no contact with children under the age of 16. He will return to court on November 26th for a pretrial conference. According to a press release from the Suffolk District Attorney, Boston police officers responded to the hospital to investigate the report of a sexual assault. After speaking with officers from the hospital, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing surveillance video, the defendant was taken into custody.
The defendant has been teaching at the Mission Hill K-8 School for several years and currently teaches third and fourth grade. He was immediately placed on administrative leave after the school learned of his arrest. According to the Boston School Superintendent, the defendant had passed a background check.
The question for the defendant’s attorney now becomes how to rebut the Commonwealth’s evidence against his client. The appropriate manner in which to defend sex crimes is driven by the specific facts of the case. The most important considerations are whether there is physical evidence (such as DNA, which connects the defendant to the alleged victim) or an independent witness. In this case, it sounds like there might be surveillance video of the alleged attack, which may greatly strengthen the Commonwealth’s case against the defendant. While the Commonwealth loves having physical evidence, independent witnesses, or other corroboration in sexual assault cases, often times no such evidence exists.
How does a defense attorney go about defending a case like this – indecent assault and battery – where there is no evidence against the defendant other than the allegation from the complaining witness? There are four general avenues of defense. Perhaps the defendant touched the alleged victim accidentally. If the defendant bumped into and unintentionally touched the alleged victim’s private area, the defendant cannot be convicted of indecent assault and battery. Maybe the defendant touched the alleged victim in self-defense. If the alleged victim was attacking the defendant and the defendant unintentionally touched the alleged victim during a struggle to escape, the defendant cannot be convicted of indecent assault and battery. In cases involving alleged victims who are adults, the defendant’s attorney would determine if the alleged victim had a criminal record that could be used for impeachment purposes at trial.
But the most common defense to sexual assault cases, particularly those involving children, is that the charges are completely fabricated. With this defense, the defendant typically needs to suggest to the jury why the alleged victim had a motive to lie. Sometimes the defendant is involved in a romantic relationship with the child’s mother and the child doesn’t like him. Sometimes, the child needs to deflect attention from his or her own bad behavior, such as poor performance at school or breaking curfew.
The defense can be formulated only after the suspect hires a criminal defense attorney who has experience in defending these types of cases.