Tucson criminal defense lawyers Richard L. Lougee and Ralph Ellinwood teamed up to represent a Benson firefighter charged with 20 counts of child pornography and 1 count of sexual conduct with a minor. During pretrial preparations defense investigators were able to obtain information that was favorable to the defendant concerning the sexual conduct charge and this led to a dismissal of that charge. Since the defense to the child pornography counts was that the client’s roommate, and not the client, had put the child pornography on the client’s computer, Lougee and Ellinwood stipulated that the images in the indictment were in fact child pornography. As a result, the judge was not required to view the images in order to make his decision and he thanked the defense team for this during the announcement of the verdict. Since the sole question to be decided was “who was behind the keyboard?” when the child pornography was downloaded, Lougee and Ellinwood advised the client to waive a jury and to let the judge decide the case. On November 20, 2017, the Cochise County Superior Court Judge found the firefighter not guilty on all of the charges.
In April of 2011, the client, then a young, up-and-coming chef at an exclusive Tucson resort, was accused by his daughter’s 12-year-old friend “I.A.” of sexually molesting her while at a pool party and having sexual intercourse with her during the previous year. Retained by the chef, Lougee’s criminal defense team prevented the police from taking a statement from him, a tactic that is never in the best interest of the accused and only serves to support law enforcement efforts to substantiate the accusations. Lougee’s team also investigated the facts surrounding the girl’s accusations. Presented by Lougee’s team with compelling evidence I.A. had fabricated the allegations, the state dropped any further prosecution. However, in 2014, another friend of I.A. and the client’s daughter, “G.C.”, while under arrest for stealing a cell phone, took the all-too-frequent route of transforming herself from defendant to victim by claiming her “misconduct” was the result of trauma inflicted during repeated rapes by the client from April 2011 to April 2012. The police now had 2 accusers, I.A. and G.C., and while each had a motive to lie, the police convinced the Pima County Attorney’s Office in 2015 to indict the client on 6 counts of sexual conduct with a minor and child molestation involving the 2 girls. Following the client’s arrest, Lougee, as one of Tucson’s best criminal defense lawyers, secured his release from jail pending trial. Thereafter, for two and a half grueling years, the Lougee criminal defense team thoroughly investigated the state’s evidence, determining it to be completely implausible. This was an extremely important part of the client’s defense since the guilt or innocence of the client in a child sexual abuse case is determined by the factual context of the allegations. Furthermore, mountains of evidence developed showing the girls were pathological liars. Following the indictment, the Lougee law office filed scores of legal motions and memoranda challenging all matters of substance and procedure in the case. One such motion was to sever (separate) the cases of the 2 girls and to have their cases tried separately. The court granted this motion and I.A.’s case was set for trial in January, 2018. On November 9, 2017, the state dismissed all of the charges against the client. This dismissal occurred as the result of the unrelenting efforts of the best criminal defense team in Tucson Arizona led by Richard L. Lougee over a period of 6 ½ years. Freed of the possibility of a sentence of life imprisonment had he been convicted at trial, the client was ecstatic that his long ordeal was over and that he could finally get on with his life.
On October 3, 2017, criminal defense lawyer Richard Lougee and an extraordinary team of committed Tucson lawyers and investigators secured the dismissal of criminal rape charges against a local university professor after a two-year battle. The case against the professor was one that has become all too familiar: Drinks at a bar, late night drinks at the man’s home, consensual sex that night, “buyer’s remorse” the next morning, and “rape” charges – almost always filed by police and prosecutors who uncritically accept the accuser’s claims. Given the prominence of the accused in the Tucson community, his arrest and the criminal proceedings against him were the lead stories on television and in national magazines for weeks and front-page news in the Arizona Daily Star. Before the professor’s lawyers could even begin their efforts to defend him, the biased media coverage had “metaphorically lynched” him. A fair trial in Tucson could never happen.
Making matters even worse, the accuser’s attorney filed a civil lawsuit against the professor for damages arising from “the rape.” As it turned out, this was a huge mistake. When the accuser gave her initial account of the incident to the police, she stated her prior relationship with the professor was casual and business related – nothing more. She claimed to have gone to the professor’s residence at midnight on the night of the incident to “look at his home” since she dabbled in real estate. During her deposition she was asked if she had ever gone with the professor to his vacation home in southern California. She adamantly denied under oath she had ever done so. The defense investigator proved this trip had occurred by recovering plane boarding passes, credit card receipts for plane tickets and meals, and finally cell phone records showing the cell phones of the professor and his accuser “bouncing” off the same cell phone towers over a 3-day period. This evidence established beyond any doubt the accuser was a liar and was willing to lie under oath. Coupled with the defense attorney’s interview of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner who conceded her findings on examination of the accuser were consistent with consensual sex, the defense had what it needed to file the following two motions:
Reluctantly, the Pima County Attorney transferred the prosecution to the office of the Maricopa County Attorney. Confronted with the ethical repercussions of putting an accuser on the stand at trial who was committed to lying under oath, the Maricopa County Attorney dismissed all charges against the professor.
He had a business with his girlfriend who had 2 children by a previous marriage. They took photographs of people having weddings, anniversaries, and special occasions. Their equipment consisted of a camera connected to a computer. Once the camera was activated there was a short delay and then three shots were taken automatically in 1-2 second intervals. These were then captured in the computer. When the girlfriend was testing the equipment in her bedroom, her two young boys were running around naked in the room. Having activated the camera the woman left the room. Upon her return she saw on the computer that the camera had captured the boys clowning on the bed. She deleted the pictures. Later a disgruntled employee of the business found the pictures in the deleted files and turned the computer over to the police. A detective interviewed the mother. She told the detective exactly what had occurred. The detective chose not to turn his tape recorder on until the interview was nearly over – omitting the mother’s account of how the pictures had been taken by her. With no record of the woman’s statement the detective was free to indict the woman’s boyfriend on child pornography charges. He did so by testifying under oath the woman had told him she had not taken the pictures. Sexual exploitation charges were filed against the boyfriend and it took over a year to convince the prosecutor to dismiss the case. Had he been convicted he would have faced a 48-year mandatory prison sentence. The detective remains free to continue lying to grand juries.
In 2017, the father of 5 daughters came to my office after being indicted on ten counts of child sexual assault, sexual conduct with a minor and sexual molestation. The alleged victim was his 9-year old niece. As in most cases involving allegations of sexual abuse of a child, the allegations spanned a long period of time and supposedly occurred in different locations on properties belonging to the client and his mother. While most of the incidents allegedly occurred in “secret” places without witnesses, one of the child accuser’s claims involved a sexual assault in an abandoned trailer on her grandmother’s property during an Easter party in 2016. The following letter to the prosecutor sets out the facts of the case and is an example of how thorough investigation can result in dismissal of charges in a child sex case without the necessity of a trial. (NOTE: The names of all individuals in the letter except the investigating officer have been changed to protect the identity of the client)
August 16, 2018
Deputy County Attorney
Pima County Attorney's Office
32 N. Stone Ave.
Tuscon, AZ 85701
RE: State of Arizona vs. Ricardo Galindo
Yesterday I emailed you the transcript of Cassandra’s recent Child Advocacy Center interview.
Now that we know what the child is saying about the “last” incident with my client we are able to draw certain conclusions about her credibility as to all of the allegations in the indictment. Here is what we know from her CAC interviews:
Perhaps what is most important is the girl and the affiants were all at the same party – an Easter party in 2016 at which Cassandra found the egg with a $20 bill inside. My concern prior to the girl’s most recent CAC interview is she would defeat my alibi defense by changing her version of where and when the “last” sexual event occurred. She didn’t – Cassandra and the women affiants are all talking about the same party. What the witnesses say is my client was not at the party. He came to set up the piñata and the lawn chairs but left before any of the guests arrived and never came back that day. He was never with Cassandra at that party. In fact, all of the women I have interviewed say Ricardo is a rough, tough curmudgeon who doesn’t enjoy social gatherings and never attends them. He helps set up then leaves. That’s what he did at this party.
Not only was he not at the party, the “incident” as described by the girl could not have occurred as she describes even if he had been there. Here is her description of what led up to my client taking her from the main house to the trailer where she was sexually abused:
A It's like that. So, then I went in (___20:52). I'm all I'm hungry, and she like... it was like really cold. So, she brang it out of that... the freezer and there was like freezing smoke everywhere, like (noise). Q Oh, who brought it out? A My Nana Donna. Q Your nana? Okay, and then what happened? A And then I like ate, and then he told me who wants to go with me? And then... and then I said okay, I'll go, and then... and then that happened. Q Mm-hmm. Okay. So, who is he? Who is he that told you that? A My tata. (Transcript page 12, ll. 24-38)…
“who wants to go with me?” (to be molested?!) This is how children confabulate, not how they relate actual events. Furthermore, all of the people at the party state it would have been impossible for Ricardo, without being seen by several people, to have taken a child through the crowded back yard to the trailer where Cassandra claims the molest occurred. It couldn’t have happened and it didn’t. Ricardo was not at the 2016 Easter party. One other fact: Both Donna and her husband who own the trailer where the incident supposedly occurred have stated it was padlocked at the time of the 2016 Easter party and my client didn’t have a key.
I have discussed with you before the child’s motive to fabricate: Her father was a meth addict just released from prison at the time the child first disclosed. He had been banned by my client from living with his family in the small trailer behind my client’s residence. (A different property than Nana Donna’s). After my client was jailed by Det. Sabori, one of Cassandra’s younger brothers was heard saying he was glad because his mom and dad could now be together. This is a convincing motive to fabricate and one supported by Wendy Dutton who has testified that while children rarely lie about sexual abuse, they will do so to change their living situations. That’s exactly what we have here: A dad who’s a felon who knows exactly how to get rid of my client so he can be with his family.
Again, it is extremely rare to be able to disprove a child’s allegations with an alibi. But this is what we have here. None of these women who signed the accompanying affidavits would lie for Mr. Galindo. But knowing her “Easter allegation” is patently false, they know she is lying about all of the other incidents. Indeed they have explained to me in detail why the girl’s other allegations could not have occurred given how, when and where she claims they happened but this information does not directly disprove the girl’s story. However, their presence, along with presence of many others, at the 2016 Easter party establishes conclusively that Cassandra was not sexually abused on that day because Mr. Galindo was not at Nana Donna’s when the girl was. His alibi is solid.
As I told you before, the first time I met Mr. Galindo’s five daughters they came to my office while he was still in jail on these charges. Each of them, when young, had lived with him and had often been alone with him. Nothing remotely like Cassandra’s claims ever happened to them. They described him as a stern father and a strict disciplinarian but not one who ever did anything sexually inappropriate.
As I tell juries, it is extremely difficult to prove the negative: i.e., to prove that what the child is saying didn’t happen. But in this case I can. Detective Sabori never investigated this case and hated my client. (When confronted with the allegations he snarled “This is f---ing bullshit.” Exactly the right tone and language from an innocent roughneck.) That is why Detective Sabori pushed to have it prosecuted. With her gone, and Cassandra’s father back in prison, please dismiss this case before we set a trial date. It makes no sense on these facts to put my client and Cassandra through a trial. Thanks.
Sincerely yours,Richard L. LougeeAttorney for Ricardo Galindo
Following receipt of the letter and but days before trial, the prosecutor dismissed all of the charges against the client. The client who was facing multiple life sentences in prison if convicted at trial was obviously overjoyed. The result in this case, indeed the correct and just result – a dismissal - was the culmination of months of hard work by a criminal defense attorney experienced in defending allegations of child sexual abuse and of close coordination between the attorney and an investigative team experienced in uncovering the actual facts in child sex cases.