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Kansas van driver molestation case will move to trial

Proof, disputing or supporting charges, is central to every Kansas criminal case. Sex crime cases can involve an alleged victim's claim with little hard evidence against a defendant. There are often no witnesses.

Kansas prosecutors claim evidence from a surveillance camera will prove a 74-year-old van driver molested a female passenger. A video camera reportedly captured the 74-year-old defendant molesting a 20-year-old woman with special needs. The alleged incident took place in the van in September 2014.

The defendant was employed by a company contracted by the school district in Olathe. The woman the driver is accused of sexually abusing was a participant in a young adult special needs program.

Video apparently showed the driver kissing and fondling the woman. Audio revealed the man told the passenger to keep quiet or risk being taken out of the special needs program. The defendant apparently was heard warning the woman he could be fired or arrested if she talked about the incident.

The defendant waived his right to a preliminary hearing on an aggravated sexual battery charge. Prosecutors are not claiming the woman failed to give consent to sexual activity.

A charge of sexual battery, sexual touching without consent, is elevated from a misdemeanor to an aggravated sexual battery felony under certain circumstances, like the unconsciousness of the victim. In this case, the state claims the victim did not have the ability to give consent due to "mental deficiency or disease."

A Kansas statute also defines aggravated sexual battery as improper touching when an alleged victim, 16 or older, is affected by drugs or alcohol. The law also states an offender must be aware the victim is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

A sex crime conviction, even for a misdemeanor, can have lasting consequences like inclusion on a sex offender registry. Defense attorneys work to help defendants avoid these serious penalties.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "Trial is ordered in Olathe sexual molestation of young woman with special needs," Tony Rizzo, Sep. 23, 2015

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