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Did system hastily target disabled teen in Colorado rape case?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2012 | Sexual Assault |

Once a person becomes the suspect of a crime in Colorado, the legal process that’s ahead of him could mean that years of his life are about to be filled with stress related to investigation, trial and media hoopla. That is why it’s crucial for law enforcement and prosecutors to do due diligence when handling a case, especially when the case involves the future and reputation of a young suspect.

In 2009, an 8-year-old girl became a victim of sexual assault in Colorado. When such a serious crime occurs, it’s natural to want to arrest someone and pin the crime on him. But rape — particularly the rape of a child — is just about as serious of a charge that there is. And a disabled young man’s defense team and family blame the system for wrongfully treating the young man as the guilty culprit over the past two plus years.

After the sexual assault occurred, police questioned and then arrested the then 19-year-old man who was reportedly spotted near the location where the rape took place. Further investigation proved that the young man’s DNA did not match any of the DNA from the crime scene. Also, the victim of the crime described her attacker, and her description far from matched the identity of the suspect.

The point that recently persuaded the system to drop the sex crime charge against the now 21-year-old relates to the suspect’s mental capacity. Mental professionals evaluated the young man and concluded that he has disabilities that compromised his position after his arrest. After he was arrested and questioned, the suspect confessed to the crime. Psychiatrists suspect that the confession stemmed from the man’s anxiety disorder and limited intellectual functioning.

So, after being accused of this terrible crime, having his future threatened and spending four months in prison, the young man and his family now can breathe sighs of relief. However, those sighs are surely interrupted by pangs of frustration that it took the system so long to recognize how the poor handling of this case led to the boy and his family’s emotional and financial hardships related to the charge.

Source: ABC 7 News, “DA Drops Sex Assault Case Against Disabled Man,” Alan Gathright, April 5, 2012