The Phillips & Associates Oklahoma Law Blog


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By Dustin Phillips on
June 13, 2011
December 31, 2019

The mayor of a small town in the eastern part of the state finds himself in need of an Oklahoma sex crime defense lawyer after being formally charged with the molestation of a toddler in 2009.

Delbert Starr, Jr., 61, who became mayor of Haileyville, Oklahoma, about two months ago, was charged last week in Pittsburg County District Court with sexual abuse of a child under 12. The accusation of Oklahoma child sexual abuse arose after two child welfare workers visited Starr's home to check on a 3-year-old boy in November 2009.

The child welfare agents allege they witnessed Starr molesting the child, saying the adult was masturbating while the child sat on his lap. The workers told authorities that Starr claimed he and the child had just bathed together, but Starr later denied that allegation, telling a sheriff's department investigator that he had bathed the child before child welfare workers arrived, but that he had not showered with the child.

An affidavit reports that the alleged victim told a child a child abuse specialist at the Pittsburg County Child Advocacy Center that Starr had "hurt" him. Starr, a retired firefighter with the Tulsa Police Department, has denied all allegations of child molestation.

When local media questioned Assistant District Attorney Wesley Cherry about why it took nearly 16 months after the allegations to formally charge Starr with Oklahoma child molestation, he offered no explanation, replying, "It's an ongoing case, and I can't say more than what's been filed in court."

Oklahoma sex crime lawyers understand that the interviewing and questioning of alleged victims of child sexual abuse must be conducted carefully. Child victims may be easily influenced by persuasive questioning techniques. Though child advocates have traditionally held that children do not lie about sex abuse, recent cases have confirmed that the testimony of children is not always accurate.

Older children may lie for revenge; very young children may become confused or may answer in a way that they think will please investigators, rather than truthfully. Those accused of sex crimes are often presumed to be guilty; therefore, in order to protect one's rights, it is imperative that anyone accused of or charged with child molestation contact an experienced sex crime defense lawyer in Oklahoma.


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