For some, trials not so speedy

-A A +A

Indictments returned against two men more than a year after their arrests

By Sarah Bennett

Two Hardin County men were indicted last month in connection to alleged rape offenses that occurred more than a year ago.

Robert W. Wilson, 22, was indicted on charges of second-degree rape while James T. Robinson III, 35, faces allegations of third-degree rape and third-degree sodomy.

Forcible contact is not alleged and, in both cases, the victim was younger than 16 at the time of the offense.

Wilson was arrested in September 2009 after engaging in sexual intercourse with someone underage at Ponderosa Mobile Home Park in Elizabethtown, according to a police citation.

Robinson was arrested in September 2010 after police said he engaged in sex acts and intercourse with someone underage at Commonwealth Lodge in Elizabethtown, according to a citation. Alcohol is believed to have been involved.

The document reads, “(Robinson) had knowledge of victim’s age prior to the sodomy.”

Within weeks of the arrests, both men posted bond, according to court records. A Hardin District Court judge found probable cause in both cases, waiving the defendants on to grand juries.

However, it wasn’t until last month Wilson and Robinson were indicted.

Because both alleged offenses occurred in Elizabethtown city limits, the cases were investigated by Elizabethtown Police Department. Detective Clint Turner was assigned as the investigating officer.

Asked why the cases took nearly two and three years before being indicted, Turner said he is unsure what caused the delay.

The lapse in time between a finding of probable cause and an indictment is uncommon, he said, but each case is different.

The detective testified at both preliminary hearings, he said, but never knew what happened after probable cause was found.

“After I do my part, it’s up to the prosecutor to (seek an indictment),” Turner said.

“Just because they haven’t been indicted doesn’t mean we can’t check on them,” he said.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office presents cases to the Hardin County grand jury for indictment. Chris Shaw did not return phone or email messages Monday and Tuesday seeking comment.

Since posting bond, both men have been monitored by Hardin County’s Pretrial Services division, a Kentucky program under the Administrative Office of the Courts.

In an email, Leigh Anne Hiatt, AOC public information officer, wrote Pretrial Services reports supervision costs 92 cents per day, but that amount only is for labor. Defendants foot additional costs for equipment or services, such as drug screenings, through approved providers.

Through April 30, 2012, Robinson was under pretrial supervision for 591 days, amounting to $543.72 in labor costs.

Wilson was monitored for 949 days through the end of April with labor costing $873.08.

According to court records, Wilson has failed numerous drug screenings since posting bond in 2009, resulting in a special bond condition for weekly drug screening.

Local attorney Dwight Preston, who previously served as Hardin County attorney and commonwealth’s attorney before resigning from office in 1992, said there is no statute of limitations in Kentucky for felony offenses.

Defendants in custody must be indicted within 60 days or released from jail, he said.

As long as he or she is not in custody, time helps the defendant, Preston said.

“The more time, the more witnesses age and memories are lost,” he said.

Asked how the lapse in time may affect evidence or victims, Turner said both cases were statutory rape cases in which the incidents were reported by the parents rather than the teens.

By the time the alleged offenses were reported, about a week had passed since the encounters, he said, and sexual assault kits were not performed.

Ultimately, Turner said he believes the time lapse between a finding of probable cause and return of indictment benefits the defendant.

An indictment is an allegation, not proof of guilt. Defendants are innocent until proven guilty.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.