Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Defense says prosecution is 'bootstrapping' to win Ehlert case

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Arguments were heard today on whether or not evidence of prior bad acts can be included in UOG professor Michael Ehlert's July trial.

Guam - The notice came from the Attorney General's Office to include the testimonies of two other victims who claim to have been sexually assaulted by University of Guam professor Michael Ehlert at two separate off-campus parties in 2009 and 2011.

Ehlert's current indictments are for incidents that occurred in November of 2014. Asst. Atty. Gen. Matt Heibel, in his argument, said that, because they are all criminal sexual conduct allegations, the evidence of Ehlert's prior acts should be included in trial. Heibel adds that, although the prior incidents occurred 3 and 5 years before the 2014 charges, there was similarity and frequency since Ehlert is said to have thrown two end-of-the-semester parties each year. This, according to Heibel, only leaves a gap of four parties hosted by Ehlert between the older and more recent victims.

Defense attorney Jay Arriola, however, says that two separate victims at two separate parties during two separate years should not be considered frequent. In fact, Arriola argues that even the accusations are not the same. The three victims from the 2014 incident were at the same party, Arriola says, and accused Ehlert of digitally penetrating them while in the water. The 2009 victim accused Ehlert of lewd comments, and the 2011 victim claimed she had "nonconsensual sex" with him. And yet, Arriola says, neither of the two victims filed a report against the professor within the statute of limitations. He argues that the prosecution is "bootstrapping" to try to win the case, presenting unfair prejudice against the defendant.

Judge Vern Perez, although stating Ehlert's prior bad acts are relevant, is taking the motion under advisement to determine if it is unduly prejudice or not in order to ensure that Ehlert is given a fair trial.

The defense's motion to dismiss Ehlert's indictments still needs to be heard. That motion hearing is scheduled for May 9 at 10:30 a.m.

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