A defense attorney for a former Shelter Inc. employee who faces indecent liberties charges said he has uncovered evidence that one accuser in the past made false allegations about being sexually abused.
Attorney James Rumsey made the comments at a Wednesday morning hearing about his request to view records from child protective agencies and others. Rumsey has said that to assist in a possible defense of his client, a 47-year-old Lawrence man, he wants to learn more about why the two girls, who are between 14 and 16 years old, were placed in custody at the shelter, if they had any past psychological issues, and if they had a history of making false sexual abuse allegations.
The defense had received information about one accuser, and Rumsey on Wednesday asked a judge to order court officials in Pawnee County to provide information about a child-in-need-of-care case that began there for the other alleged victim.
“I know the state is going to say this is just a fishing expedition,” Rumsey said. “The fishing expedition for (one accuser) netted some remarkable exculpatory evidence.”
The Kansas Attorney General’s Office, which is handling the case, has filed charges of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, criminal sodomy and indecent liberties with a child for alleged acts that began in October and ended in December involving two victims. Rumsey said Wednesday that the girls made the allegations after they left the care of The Shelter Inc.
The Journal-World generally does not identify sex crime suspects unless they are convicted.
The Shelter Inc. has an office at 105 W. 11th St. and operates emergency residential care for Kansas teenagers who are placed through the court system. Shelter officials said after the man’s arrest he was suspended without pay, but Brad Finkeldei, an attorney representing the Shelter Inc., said Wednesday that the man has since been fired.
Assistant Attorney General Christine Ladner also said in court Wednesday that investigators had discovered allegations against the man by a third girl who was placed at the Shelter during the same time period. Prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges against the man involving the third girl’s allegations.
Retired Johnson County District Judge Janice Russell, who is hearing the case, agreed Wednesday to order the court clerk in Pawnee County and other agencies to provide records to her about the second and third accusers under seal for her to review. The judge said she would review the records to look for information on why the girls were placed out of their homes and if it involved physical or sexual abuse. She would also check if either accuser suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder or had made past false allegations of sexual abuse against a caregiver.
The judge said she would turn over anything that meets the pertinent criteria to Rumsey, who would be restricted in using the information for potential defense in the case instead of releasing it to the media or the public.
Russell said her ruling pertained to the initial discovery process and that she would make a separate ruling later on whether any information from the records would be admissible in a trial.