FIREFIGHTER ACCUSED OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY IN COCHISE COUNTY, ARIZONA
NOT GUILTY AT TRIAL
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.
SERVICEMAN EXONERATED FROM CHILD PORNOGRAPHY DISTRIBUTION CHARGES
After serving two tours in Iraq, a Marine Staff Sergeant found himself charged by federal indictment with possession and distribution of child pornography. A conviction on these offenses would have ended a spotless military record, mandated 10 years in prison and required registration as a sex offender. Mr. Lougee’s pre-trial investigative team established the following facts: The subject computer was not used exclusively by the Marine; and It was not password protected; and His credit card was accessible to the uses of the computer at the time charges were incurred on child pornography sites. Following a forensic examination of the computer by an expert retained by Mr. Lougee, the United States Attorney’s Office dismissed all charges against the Marine.
CHEF FALSELY ACCUSED OF MOLESTING DAUGHTER'S FRIENDS
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.
BORDER PATROL AGENT CHARGED WITH CHILD MOLESTATION
Arrested and facing life imprisonment if convicted, the client sought Mr. Lougee’s services. The allegations against the client by his nine-year-old daughter arose during a custody dispute with an ex-wife. Thorough investigative work by an agency routinely used by Mr. Lougee for 20 years generated witnesses willing to testify to the child accuser’s history of dishonesty. Mr. Lougee was able to identify inconsistencies and improbabilities in the child accuser’s accounts of the alleged sexual acts. These infirmities in the state’s case coupled with a likely explanation of the child accuser’s motive to fabricate resulted in a jury acquittal in less than one hour.
EXTREME DILIGENCE AND COMPETENCE CLEAR A COLLEGE PROFESSOR OF FALSE RAPE CHARGES
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:
Motion to Preclude the State From Introducing Perjured Testimony at Trial
Motion to Recuse the Pima Count Attorney’s Office Because of a Conflict of Interest.
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.
YOUNG BUSINESSMAN CHARGED WITH CHILD PORNOGRAPHY BASED ON POLICE PERJURY
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.
BAR PATRON WHO LEFT THE SCENE
NOT GUILTY OF MURDER
Following a night of karaoke and pool, a retired engineer and his friend left the bar and headed toward his parked car. They were followed by an intoxicated individual who believed the engineer’s friend had insulted his female friend. As the engineer began to open his car door, he saw an individual moving quickly toward his friend. Believing the man had a gun, the engineer fired his own gun, killing the man. The engineer then fled the scene leaving his friend and vehicle behind. A blood splatter expert and witness interviews conducted by Mr. Lougee’s team developed plausible explanations for the engineer firing his gun and fleeing. The engineer was acquitted of all charges at his trial.
A SMALL BUSINESSMAN SUCCESSFULLY SUES POWERFUL OILMEN
WON BREACH OF CONTRACT CASE
While working as an attorney in New Mexico, Mr. Lougee represented an individual who owned three trucks used for transporting crude oil. Having entered a contract with five local oil producers for the use of his trucks to haul crude oil from the well head to the refineries, the small business owner depended exclusively on this contract for his livelihood. The oil producers, however, during the period of the contract, discovered a cheaper method of transporting their oil and concocted reasons why Mr. Lougee’s client had breached the contract thereby freeing them to retain a different hauler. Mr. Lougee sued the oil producers who were represented by New Mexico’s largest and most prestigious law firm. Following a jury trial in San Juan County, New Mexico, Mr. Lougee obtained for his client a sum of damages which at the time represented the largest monetary award for breach of contract in that county.
A COLLEGE FRESHMAN CHARGED WITH RAPE AT A FRATERNITY PARTY
With his office near a major state university, Mr. Lougee has frequently represented young men charged with sexual assault following a night of parties with heavy drinking. One such case involved an intoxicated freshman who was led into an empty room at a fraternity house by an equally intoxicated coed who then willingly performed unsolicited oral sex upon him. When the room’s owner entered the room, the embarrassed young woman ran from the fraternity to a street curb where she sat until she was found sobbing by a friend. When asked why she was upset, she stated she had been raped. Without further investigation campus police arrested the young male recipient of the coed’s sexual favors. After Mr. Lougee was hired by the boy’s family, his investigative team interviewed several witnesses who attended the fraternity party and Mr. Lougee was then able to put together the true story of the evening’s events. The criminal charges against the boy were eventually dismissed and his family commenced a civil action against the university.
NINE-YEAR-OLD FALSELY ACCUSES UNCLE OF SEXUAL ASSAULTING HER AT A FAMILY EASTER PARTY
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:
According to Cassandra the last molest occurred at an Easter party at her Nana Donna’s house in 2016;
Among the many people at the party were her teenage cousins Jamie, Jessica, and Joanie, her grandmother Donna, and her aunt Becky. (These women were all at the last court hearing and their affidavits accompany. You already have their statements taken by my investigator Michael Short.)
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.