Challenges of Sex Crime Trials

In almost any criminal case, there is a certain degree of "he said, she said," in which the victim's story and the defendant's story about the alleged incident contradict each other. Nowhere is this more true than in allegations of sexual battery or sexual assault. Often these crimes lack physical evidence or DNA evidence, and the decision to arrest, prosecute, and try a person for the alleged sex offense is based largely on the credibility of the victim or the accused. Sometimes, the prosecution's challenges are not limited to a lack of physical evidence or the victim's lack of credibility. In some cases, the prosecution's own witnesses are hostile and uncooperative. According to The Oklahoman, this is currently playing out in the trial of former University of Oklahoma professor and ex-DHS social worker David Pellebon, accused of molesting at least two young girls. One girl testified that Pellebon "creeped [her] out" by watching girls as they slept at his house, and others say that they were often made uncomfortable by unwanted touching. However, none of them testified that the physical contact was sexual in nature. The fathers of two alleged victims say that they were leery of the time and attention the defendant paid to their daughters, and the mothers who were called by the prosecution to testify did nothing to help the state's case. According to one alleged victim, Pellebon stroked her hair as she slept. When questioned about the incident, the girl's mother told the court, “If somebody would stroke your hair . . . I don't know if that's a big deal." She was asked by prosecutors why she stopped allowing her daughter to go to Pellebon's house if the contact was not a big deal, and she indicated that it was more out of concern for gossip in the community than any real fear that her daughter was being sexually abused by the defendant. When a case has a lack of physical evidence, conflicting testimony, and even the district attorney's own witnesses seem hostile and uncooperative, prosecution can be quite difficult. These same challenges, on the other hand, can be useful tools in sex crime defense. When defending a sex crime case, criminal lawyers can utilize lack of witnesses, lack of physical evidence, lack of witness credibility, and inconsistent testimony as tools to cast reasonable doubt of a defendant's guilt. Furthermore, a skillful attorney may also uncover evidence that demonstrates a defendant's innocence or excludes him or her as the perpetrator of a crime. Click here to see our record of successful criminal defense and read more about the strategies we may use to help you win your case.