A Douglas County judge is considering a request to dismiss an aggravated indecent liberties charge against a former Lawrence church youth leader based on the state’s statute of limitations.
Hatem Chahine, a defense attorney for Christopher L. Cormack, is arguing that prosecutors filed a case in 2008 after the five-year requirement had elapsed.
But Amy McGowan, a chief assistant Douglas County district attorney, said prosecutors acted within the law because Cormack moved out of the state for four years and that time is exempt.
A jury in 2008 convicted Cormack, a one-time youth ministry coordinator at Trinity Lutheran Church, on one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child for having a sexual relationship with an underage girl when he was 28. But a Kansas Court Appeals panel ruled earlier this year Cormack, who has been free on appeal bond, should have a new trial because jury instructions were not specific enough.
Chahine asked Chief District Judge Robert Fairchild on Tuesday to dismiss the charge against Cormack, who now lives in Abilene, based on the timeline in the case. The girl alleges during a youth retreat in July 1999 the two first had sex, but she did not turn 16 — the Kansas age of consent — until March 2000.
Cormack had testified in the first trial the two didn’t have sexual intercourse until after she was 16.
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.
Chahine said detectives first interviewed Cormack in August 2007, and McGowan filed the case in February 2008, nearly eight years after the alleged victim turned 16.
McGowan said state law allows for exceptions to the five-year time limit when an accused person is absent from the state, and she argued that by subtracting Cormack’s time in California the case was filed in less than five years from the alleged offense.
Chahine argued Cormack’s time in California cannot be excluded from the statute of limitations because he was not accused of committing the alleged crimes that occurred in 1999 when he left the state.
“That did not happen until February of 2008, well after the statute of limitations,” Chahine said.
Fairchild said Tuesday he would review the arguments and information in the case and make a ruling later.