Man stands trial again for sex abuse

Mis­trial de­clared in Jan­uary

Maryland Independent - - News - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @An­drew_IndyNews

Ac­cused of sex­u­ally abus­ing a mi­nor, a Wal­dorf man stands trial this week for the sec­ond time af­ter a mis­trial was de­clared in Jan­uary when the jury could only ar­rive at a par­tial ver­dict.

The girl’s mother and ma­ter­nal grand­mother made the al­le­ga­tions af­ter Ja­son Adam Fallin, 35, of Wal­dorf, spent a week­end with the al­leged vic­tim in 2014.

How­ever, this is not the first time the man has been ac­cused.

A jury will de­cide the va­lid­ity of the al­le­ga­tions brought against Fallin who was in­dicted in July on charges of sex­ual abuse and as­sault against the 10-yearold girl.

In Jan­uary, the pros­e­cu­tors, As­sis­tant State’s At­tor­neys Sarah Free­man and Ka­trine Bakhtiary, pre­sented their case to a jury in front of Judge Jay West of the Charles County Cir­cuit Court.

To prove his guilt, the state’s case re­lied al­most ex­clu­sively on wit­ness tes­ti­monies, in­clud­ing the tes­ti­mony of the al­leged vic­tim.

Fallin was rep­re­sented by pub­lic de­fender Al­li­son Hel­dreth, who told the ju­rors that th­ese al­le­ga­tions were fab­ri­cated, mo­ti­vated by an on­go­ing dis­pute be­tween the de­fen­dant and the child’s mother and grand­mother.

In Au­gust 2012, the girl al­legedly told her mother that Fallin had touched her in­ap­pro­pri­ately, prompt­ing a pro­tec­tive or­der and a Child Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices (CPS) in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The state called upon a CPS in­ves­ti­ga­tor and a li­censed clin­i­cal coun­selor who had in­ter­viewed the child, and ac­cord­ing to their tes­ti­mony, the girl showed no signs of fab­ri­ca­tion or coach­ing when asked about the al­leged abuse.

How­ever, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was in­con­clu­sive and no crim­i­nal charges were filed.

The pro­tec­tive or­der even­tu­ally ex­pired. Fallin was al­lowed to be around the child un­der the con­di­tion that Fallin’s mother would su­per­vise.

But an­other al­le­ga­tion arose af­ter the girl spent the week­end of Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, 2014, at Fallin’s par­ents’ house near the In­dian Head Rail Trail in White Plains.

Ac­cord­ing to the girl’s tes­ti­mony, which was in­ter­rupted by an emo­tional break­down, Fallin touched her again in a porta potty on the trail.

She told her mother and ma­ter­nal grand­mother about the in­ci­dent and an­other pro­tec­tive or­der was ob­tained, but this time crim­i­nal charges were pur­sued, ac­cord­ing to court pro­ceed­ings.

Con­trary to the child’s tes­ti­mony, Fallin’s sis­ter-in­law took the stand and said that she was there that day, and they only walked the trail for a short time be­fore re­turn­ing home be­cause of the cold weather. No one used the porta potty, she tes­ti­fied.

In the state’s clos­ing ar­gu­ment, Free­man asked the ju­rors to con­sider the de­meanor of the child when she tes­ti­fied.

“That emo­tional break­down was not re­hearsed; it was not a lie,” she said.

Free­man con­tin­ued and la­beled the ar­gu­ment pre­sented by Hel­dreth through­out the trail as “smoke and mir­rors” in­tended to con­fuse ju­rors.

Hel­dreth ad­dressed the jury and re­it­er­ated that she be­lieved the al­le­ga­tions to be fab­ri­cated and that there was am­ple mo­ti­va­tion to do so.

Hel­dreth also at­tempted to di­min­ish the cred­i­bil­ity of var­i­ous wit­nesses called upon by the state, es­pe­cially the li­censed clin­i­cal coun­selor who had only been prac­tic­ing in that ca­pac­ity for about a year when she han­dled the case and was not fully-li­censed at the time in 2012, she said.

The de­fense also high­lighted that when Fallin sur­ren­dered his cell phone to de­tec­tives, he will­ingly pro­vided the pass­code to un­lock it as well.

“That’s not con­scious­ness of guilt; that’s some­one with noth­ing to hide,” she told ju­rors.

Af­ter many hours of de­lib­er­a­tion, the jury re­mained dead­locked and could only ar­rive at a par­tial ver­dict. Had the de­fen­dant opted to ac­cept the par­tial ver­dict he would have been ac­quit­ted since the only thing the ju­rors could agree on was the charges they de­ter­mined had not been proven by the state.

How­ever, Fallin elected to mo­tion for a mis­trial, and now once again ap­pears in court to con­test the al­le­ga­tions.

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