Judge: Prosecutors Screwed Up Child Molestation Case So Bad, They Can't Re-File Charges
A state district judge has said a prosecutor's actions in the child molestation case against a Houston pediatrician forced a mistrial, preventing charges from being refiled, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Harris County District Court Judge Stacy Bond ruled that prosecutor Tiffany Johnson "intentionally and deliberately engaged in an inappropriate pattern of conduct so as to force [the defense] to move for mistrial."
But the case still remains in limbo while the Harris County District Attorney's Office, which has not dismissed the charge, files an appeal of Bond's writ barring further prosecution, according to the Chron.
Robert Yetman, 55, was indicted in June on a charge of indecency with a child. Yetman, who the Chron writes was the chief medical officer for Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, was accused of molesting a seven-year-old boy in January 2014. His medical license was suspended after the indictment, but was reinstated Monday. (Yetman was also a University of Texas medical school professor of pediatrics.)
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According to Bond's findings, Johnson argued in her closing that the child's race "was a factor in his victimization," which Bond ruled was "not supported by the evidence," and which "provoked gasps of shock and audible comments of disapproval from members of the audience."
Bond admonished the audience but denied a motion for mistrial by Yetman's attorney, Stan Schneider. However, when Johnson subsequently implied that "the Court and the courtroom were biased" against the child, Bond granted the motion.
The judge also wrote that Johnson's behavior and words were "intentional and deliberate," and not "made in the heat of battle" or the result of "a momentary lapse in judgment."
Bond also wrote that, throughout the trial, Johnson "appeared to be angry or irritated" with witnesses from the University of Texas Medical School and Memorial Hermann Hospital. Some of the attorneys representing those witnesses "advised the Court that Ms. Johnson was mistreating their clients by forcing them to wait outside the courtroom for days and not allowing the witnesses to be placed on call."
Johnson "seemed especially nonplussed and incensed" by defense witness Dr. Becky Girardet, who usually testifies for the state, Bond wrote.
Johnson tried to hand the boy's dirty underwear for examination, but "this exhibit had been excluded from evidence the day before on the State's objection," Bond wrote. "In light of having caused the exclusion of the evidence the day before, Ms. Johnson's whole line of questioning to Dr. Girardet regarding this exhibit was an illogical non sequitur."
Bond also noted that the state waited 18 months to send the underwear to the lab for testing, which appeared "to be a ploy to force the Defense to request a continuance until the lab results were received."
Prosecutor Angela Weltin also violated an earlier court order barring certain lines of questioning, including questioning Yetman "about whether he discussed with his co-workers the type of pornography he preferred," Bond wrote.