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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ind. Courts - "Former Principal Wants Failure To Report Case Tossed: Penn State Case, Paterno Cited In Court Brief"

Updating this ILB entry from March 8, 2011, headed ""Ex-Muncie Central principal charged over handling of rape case"," WRTV6's Joanna Massee had a story last evening, Friday Nov. 18th on the upcoming trial. Here are some quotes; the video is also available:

Christopher Smith, 42, was charged in March, months after a student was raped at the school in November 2010.

Prosecutors claim that the girl was told to sit in the principal's office for more than two hours and asked to write a report about her claims after she told school officials about the assault.

Administrators at the school didn't notify police or child welfare officials of the incident right away, prosecutors allege.

Smith's attorneys claim that Indiana's statute involving reporting crimes is unconstitutionally vague.

"One of the statute's crucial terms -- 'immediately' -- is so vague in its application that no ordinary citizen could determine when criminal culpability might attach, thus leaving the definition of the term to the whim of the police or prosecutor," Smith's attorneys argued in a court brief.

But Indiana University Law professor Joel Schumm discounted that defense.

"Immediately, I think everyone understands is very quickly, whether it's, you know, 10 seconds or a minute and a half, I think everyone would agree it's less than four hours," he told RTV6's Joanna Massee.

The filing also makes mention of the Penn State child abuse case that led to the dismissal of legendary football coach Joe Paterno.

"Recent events at Penn State demonstrate that even when law enforcement agrees that an individual properly reported a case of child abuse, as the Pennsylvania State's attorney acknowledged was done by coach Joe Paterno, the court of public opinion may nevertheless cause one to suffer consequences," the filing read.

Schumm agreed that sometimes the emotions surrounding a case can distract from the law.

"I think this is one of those kinds of things where everyone is thinking Paterno and it's so bad when people don't report things, so why don't I just put that out there and suggest there's lots of emotions about this and we need to focus on the law instead," he said.

Here is the Nov. 14, 2011 memorandum in support of the motion to dismiss, filed by defense attorney Scott E. Shockley of Muncie.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 19, 2011 04:37 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts