Defense wants young victim to appear in court - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Defense wants young victim to appear in court

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A local defense attorney wants the young victim of alleged sex crimes and a child witness to be required to come into court and answer questions in front of the man accused.

It's the case of Sheldon Parker,  accused of multiple counts of aggravated sexual contact with a teenaged victim.

Parker's attorney says the defendant has the right to face his accuser pre-trial,  despite Louisiana laws that protect alleged victims of sex crimes-- especially children.

Parker was indicted by a grand jury and stands charged of forty counts of aggravated sexual contact with a young girl. Police say the victim was between thirteen and seventeen during the time Parker allegedly sexually abused her. Louisiana law allows a victim's testimony to be preserved on video to keep victims from having to repeatedly tell what happened, though there are provisions to use closed circuit tv if needed, to protect a vulnerable victim.

However, defense attorney Ted Hartman says Parker has a right to face his accuser in court-- even in a bond reduction hearing. "Consistent with the U.S.Constitution I do believe that the victim should have to come in and confront their accuser just to make sure that this is a real, that this is a real crime. We should be able to subpoena the victim to testify in court because they are the primary source of the evidence. And if you're going to argue weight of evidence you should have the victim in there," said Hartman.

Judge David Ritchie told Hartman putting the victim on the stand would serve only to harass and intimidate her so the defense could try to get a statement with inconsistencies, which would benefit Parker during trial. 

District Attorney John DeRosier says defendants get to confront victims at trial, but even then, should be protected. "By way of closed circuit television and accomplish what needs to be accomplished. That does not mean, nor does it give defense attorneys the right to bring victims, young vulnerable victims, into the courtroom for every motion that he or she may file in order to protect the rights of a defendant," said DeRosier.

Judge Ritchie refused to require the witnesses to testify and denied Parker's request for his $500,000 bond to be reduced-- in part because he says Parker could be a danger to the community.  Hartman disagrees he's a danger. "Yes I disagree with that. I don't think he's a danger to other people," said Parker after court.

Hartman is asking the Third Circuit Court of Appeal to review the issue.

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