James B, an established Broadway actor, was charged with the sexual abuse of a 15-year-old girl in 2001. His attorney, Ronald P. Fischetti, filed a petition on his behalf challenging an order from the Supreme Court which prohibited the defense from publishing the victim’s name in order to investigate her credibility.
A complaint was first filed against B on April 4, 2006. On October 30, 2006, he was indicted on charges of third degree sexual abuse and committing a criminal sexual act in the third degree. His arraignment hearing was scheduled for December 6, 2006. The day before the arraignment, the District Attorney’s office gave information about the case to the New York Post and the New York Daily News. The news coverage that followed painted B in a negative light and described the alleged sex crimes involved. Both newspaper articles included a telephone number and encouraged anyone with similar complaints about B to call. The day after the articles were published, the New York Post reported that another girl had come forward to claim that B had engaged in improper sexual conduct with her when she was 13.
On December 20, 2006, the Assistant District Attorney asked the court to direct all parties involved to refrain from making comments to the media about the case. B’s criminal defense lawyer proposed setting up another telephone number for men who had been falsely accused by the most recent victim. The court granted the prosecution’s motion and directed the defense to avoid publishing the victim’s name in order to identify other men she may have made false claims against.
Mr. B’s attorney then sought to vacate this order and to prohibit the court from citing the defense with contempt for violating the order.
The Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court was charged with determining whether to grant Mr. Fischetti’s petition. In the petition, he argued that there was no statutory provision or other reasoning for the prohibition on publishing the alleged victim’s name and that he was entitled to use the same type of investigative tools afforded to the prosecution. Specifically, the defense argued that the order effectively served as a violation of Mr. B’s First Amendment right to free speech and his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel.
The court concluded that the limitation on speech in the case was very narrow and that Mr. Fischetti never made a good faith effort to establish that not publishing the victim’s name had somehow limited his ability to form a defense. Moreover, the court held that defense counsel’s challenge to the order was logical but that in the interest of justice, it was not sufficient to merit a reversal of the order. Accordingly, the court chose to deny the petition.
Sexual abuse is a serious charge in the state of New York and conviction for this or other sex crimes, such as possession of child pornography, can potentially lead to life-altering consequences. If you’re facing trial for child molestation, sexual assault or similar sexual offenses, you need to hire an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights.
The law firm of Stephen Bilkis and Associates is available to assist in defending individuals charged with child molestation or other inappropriate acts involving sexual contact. Call 1-800-NY-NY-Law today to speak with one of our criminal defense experts or stop by one of our New York area office locations to discuss your case in person. Don’t let a conviction for a sex crime ruin your life. Call Stephen Bilkis today to get the aggressive legal defense you need to fight charges involving sex offenses.