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Judge allows use of taped interviews in child molestation case

A judge decided last week that DVD recordings of alleged victims in a molestation case can be used as evidence but is still undecided about the nature of the victims’ testimonies.  

Thomas Shifflet, 76, was charged with three counts of gross sexual imposition, one count of rape and one count of sexual imposition for allegedly raping a 4-year-old in June 2011 and molesting 3-, 7-, 11- and 12-year-old children between November 2010 and June 2011, according to court documents.

Athens County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Ward granted Assistant Prosecutor Robert Driscoll’s motion to allow DVD interviews of the alleged victims to be used as evidence.

Ward also allowed the interviews’ transcripts to be used. John LaValle, Shifflet’s attorney, objected at a motion hearing in January to transcripts being used because of errors between them and the DVDs.

The court has yet to decide if the alleged victims will be allowed to testify via closed-circuit television instead of in open court.

At Shifflet’s motion hearing in January, the 4-year-old’s mother testified that her child would tell in interviews what she says Shifflet did to her. She added her child would be too scared if Shifflet is present because “she is afraid of him and asked if he knows where we live.”

A hearing is set for Feb. 11 to decide if the alleged victims will testify in court.

Shifflet could be sentenced to a maximum of 25 years and two months in prison and a maximum fine of $30,500 if convicted of all charges at the trial, according to the Ohio Revised Code.

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