Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Jury trial begins in assault case

by Rob Ireland

May 03, 2012

ELKHORN — A two-part jury trial against a 60-year-old Bloomfield man, who was allegedly molesting two young girls, began Wednesday morning.

Chris E. DeMint, of Bloomfield, faces two counts of repeated sexual assault of a child. He pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to both of the charges.

During the first part of the trial the jury must determine whether DeMint committed the crimes. During the second part of trial, if the jury deems him guilty, the jury must determine whether DeMint is mentally responsible for his actions.

DeMint is already a convicted sex offender — he has a prior conviction in Texas — and if he is convicted of either charge he faces a mandatory life sentence.

District Attorney Phil Koss in his opening statement outlined how the allegations against DeMint came to light.

The victims in the case told their mother and grandmother about the alleged sexual abuse, and the adults contacted the Walworth County Sheriff's Department.

Koss said when the adults confronted DeMint, DeMint reportedly told the adults "I'm sorry."

Walworth County Sheriff's Deputy Jerry Post was the first person on the scene. DeMint allegedly told Post about the assaults, but blamed the two young victims for it.

Town of Delavan Sgt. Raymond Clark, who is with the Walworth County Sexual Assaults Task Force, was called in to interview DeMint. In the recorded interview, DeMint said the youngest girl had a "hands problem."

"The major thing I did wrong is I allowed it to happen," DeMint told Clark in the recorded interview.

During the interview, DeMint also said the assaults occurred about 40 times with one of the children and 15 with the other, according to the criminal complaint.

Both of the girls were taken to Lakeland Medical Center where they were examined by a sexual assault nurse. The nurse found evidence consistent with sexual abuse, but DNA from DeMint was not discovered, Koss said.

The state's first witness was Paula Hocking, director of the Walworth County Child Advocacy Center. Hocking is a forensic interviewer who handles cases of neglect and sexual abuse involving children.

In a taped interview with Hocking, which was played to the jury, the oldest victim described the assaults and what had occurred. Throughout the interview, when the girl spoke off the assaults, she often spoke softly to Hocking.

On the tape, the victim told Hocking the assaults began when she was in kindergarten and didn't report them because she was afraid she would get in trouble. The alleged victim also said DeMint told her not tell anyone and that it was a secret.

Koss said the assaults began around Easter of 2008. At that time, the youngest victim was about to turn 4 and the other girl was about to turn 6. The assaults allegedly continued until just before the girls reported them on June 27, 2010. Criminal charges were filed against DeMint on July 2, 2010, and have been pending until now.

Although DeMint is appearing in civilian clothes during the trial, he is currently in custody.

The jury trial was scheduled to begin on Monday, but the jury pool was tossed after DeMint's defense attorney inadvertently revealed that her client was facing a life sentence.

During the jury selection, defense attorney Karyn Missimer questioned potential jurors and Koss objected to a question.

In response to the objection, Missimer told Judge David Reddy that her client is "facing life." Jurors aren't suppose to know the potential penalties.

Reddy said Missimer's comment "badly affected the potential outcome of the case."

"To avoid an ineffective assistance of council claim, it was necessary to excuse the jury panel," Reddy said. "I'm not very happy Mrs. Missimer. I hope you can control yourself and that doesn't happen again."

Continue to follow the Regional News to find out the outcome of this case.