Topeka A former Lawrence church youth leader, who was convicted for having a sexual relationship with an underage girl who was in the youth group, will get a new trial under a ruling Friday by the Kansas Court of Appeals.
Christopher Cormack will be tried again within the next three months, Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said.
“It is our intent to re-try the case,” Branson said.
Cormack was convicted in 2008 of one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. He was sentenced to 59 months in prison, but has been free on an appeal bond.
The girl testified that she had had a sexual relationship with Cormack, who was her youth ministry coordinator at Trinity Lutheran, for more than two years beginning in 1999 when she was 15 and he was 28.
Under state law, aggravated indecent liberties with a child is engaging in “sexual intercourse with a child who is 14 or more years but less than 16 years of age.”
Cormack admitted he had sexual intercourse with the girl on multiple occasions, but said all the acts occurred after she was 16.
The victim did not come forward until 2007 when she heard Cormack was returning to Kansas to take a position as a pastor after he attended seminary in California. She contacted police.
The dispute before the three-member panel of the Court of Appeals centered on jury instructions during the trial before District Court Judge Robert Fairchild.
“In this case, there was a real possibility of jury confusion as to which specific instance Cormack may have had sexual intercourse with (her) when she was still 15 years old,” the court said.
The appeals panel said the jury must unanimously agree on the specific incidence of intercourse and when it happened to reach a verdict.
It is up to the judge to make that instruction, and he didn’t. “The district court’s failure to instruct was clearly erroneous,” the appeals panel said.
The appeals panel dismissed numerous other appeals claims made by Cormack.