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Charges of felonies or misdemeanors can fail after 40-year wait

It would seem unlikely that a 74-year-old teacher who was named Teacher of the Year in 1992 could be arrested in 2016 for allegedly assaulting a teenage boy over 40 years ago at his former school, the exclusive Phillips Exeter Academy. The defendant recently turned himself in to New Hampshire authorities to face charges relating to the sexual assault allegations, which are listed as misdemeanors and not felonies. He was an admissions officer at the school back in 1973 when the events allegedly occurred.

A man who visited the school as a youngster in 1973 has brought the charges against the former admissions officer, alleging that the accused fondled him when he visited the school. The defendant moved to another state and began teaching there in 1986; he has since retired. Officials at the school where he taught for several decades say that no charges have surfaced there.

The reason that the prosecution is allowed to go forward after 40 years is that the defendant left the state to reside elsewhere. That fact tolls the statute of limitations in New Hampshire. When it comes to sexual charges involving the alleged abuse of minors, most states today have various laws that extend the statute of limitations for much longer periods than normal.

Although the charges are misdemeanors rather than felonies, the defendant faces jail time and the destruction of his reputation. He may choose to aggressively defend the charges or he may decide to enter a plea agreement and accept what should be a mild punishment under the circumstances. If he wishes to defend, it may boil down to a battle of credibility with his word being pitted against that of the alleged victim. The edge should reasonably be to the defendant in this case, due to the failure of the victim to bring charges for over 40 years for an alleged single incident of fondling. An experienced and seasoned criminal defense attorney will artfully prepare a defense under these facts to accentuate the aura of injustice that permeates the belated prosecution.

Source: boston.com, "Ex-prep school official, Teacher of Year to face sex charges", Michael Casey, May 13, 2016

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