The Third Circuit Court of Appeal has upheld the conviction and five-year sentence of Arthur Laccasin, 56 at the time of his arrest, conditioned that the state can find record that he waived, and understood he was doing to, his right to a jury trial.
Judge Donald Hebert found Laccasin guilty in April 2010 of putting his hand in the panties of a nine-year-old.
In 1999, the girl told her mother of the incident, but the mother did nothing,, according to the court, blaming herself for leaving daughter around the man.
Six years later, the mother learned another had been fondled by same man as a young girl, and filed a complaint in Sept,. 2005.
Subsequently, according to the record, four others came forward to testify they had been touched and fondled by the man ad young girls -- 20 to 40 years ago.
Lacassin appealed the verdict, claiming evidence did not support the finding and that the sentence was excessive.
According to the 3rd Circuit:
“Defendant’s argument rests primarily of the fact that the victim did not step forward for six years and the four witnesses who testified that defendant committed the same acts on them did not speak up for up to 40 years.
“Nevertheless, in 2005 the Legislature amended the statute of limitation regarding the length of time within which to institute prosecution for certain sex offenses, including indecent behavior with juveniles, from ten years to thirty years from the date the victim attains the age of eighteen.
"While Defendant does not say so directly, his argument calls into question the credibility of the victim and the witnesses. Such calls are usually left to the trier of fact,
All of the witnesses’ testimonies were consistent with each other and with the victim’s testimony as to defendant’s behavior.”
The court ruled there is no merit to Lacassin’s claim that the evidence is insufficient to support the verdict or that the sentence is excessive.
But during its consideration of the appeal the 3rd Circuit was unable to obtain a record of Lacassin’s waiver of jury trial.
It sent the case back to Hebert for hearing on that question.
“If the evidence shows Defendant did not validly waive his right to a jury trial, the trial court must set aside his conviction and sentence and grant him a new trial.
“Defendant may appeal from any adverse ruling on this issue, and in the absence of such appeal, this court affirms Defendant’s conviction and sentence for indecent behavior with a juvenile.”