A Douglas County judge has denied a former Lawrence church youth leader’s request to dismiss an aggravated indecent liberties case against him.
According to Chief District Judge Robert Fairchild’s ruling, the judge has sided with the prosecution’s argument that the time Christopher L. Cormack spent living out of Kansas could be excluded from the state’s five-year statute of limitations to file criminal charges.
“When the period during which the defendant was absent from the state is removed from the period that elapsed between the commission of the offense and the filing of the charges, the elapsed time is less than five years,” Fairchild wrote in his ruling.
Cormack, a former youth ministry coordinator at Trinity Lutheran Church, faces one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child because prosecutors accuse him of having a sexual relationship beginning in 1999 with the girl when she was 15 and he was 28.
Cormack’s defense attorney, Hatem Chahine, argued the state’s five-year window elapsed long before charges were filed in February 2008.
Chahine said Cormack moved to California in summer 2003 to attend seminary and moved back to Kansas in August 2007. The girl came forward with the allegations after she learned Cormack was returning to Kansas to take a position as a pastor.
Amy McGowan, a chief assistant district attorney, argued that state law allows for exceptions to the five-year time limit when an accused person is absent from the state, but Chahine said those years could not be excluded because Cormack was not accused of committing the alleged crimes when he left the state.
But Fairchild ruled that the defense’s argument was contrary to the intention of Kansas law that applied.
“Under the defendant’s interpretation there could never be a time in which the defendant is an ‘accused’ for purposes of the statute of limitations because charges will not have been filed,” Fairchild wrote.
A jury in 2008 convicted Cormack on one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child for having a sexual relationship with the underage girl. But a Kansas Court of Appeals panel ruled earlier this year he should have a new trial because jury instructions were not specific enough.
Cormack, who has been free on appeal bond and living in Abilene, had testified in the first trial that the two didn’t have sexual intercourse until after she was 16 — the legal age of consent in Kansas. A trial is scheduled for Sept. 6.