A Gouldsboro man convicted of sodomizing his wife was granted a new trial Monday because of statements a prosecutor made regarding a custody fight during her closing arguments. A jury convicted Vladek Filler in January on one count of gross sexual assault and two counts of assault. The jury found him not guilty of four additional counts of gross sexual assault.The prosecution statements in question relate to child custody issues which were ruled to be inadmissible.
Along with the appeal there was a motion to dismiss the charges and the argument from the defense attorney included that the alleged crime was physically impossible. But what caught my eye was the way this claim was presented.
“For example, the court would not be compelled to accept Mrs. Filler’s testimony if she had said she had identified Mr. Filler as her assailant through a conversation with aliens,” [defense attorney Daniel] Pileggi stated. “The evidence here is similarly outrageous.”
By using the alien analogy Pileggi is making a backhanded allegation that the woman is this case is crazy, but by doing it this way he doesn't have to provide any actual evidence of mental illness.
This defense attorney would be outraged and asking for an immediate dismissal if the prosecution used similar tactics against his client to try to discredit the defense's claims about what happened.
Unfortunately, this sort of backhanded and baseless allegation is appallingly common.
If we believe in the concept of fair trials, there can be no excuse for a double standard. If a statement or the framing of a question or argument taints a case, it does so whether it comes from a prosecutor or a defense attorney. This is true whether the tainting words are spoken during the trial or written in an appeal.
Pileggi also claims that the existence of a child custody fight would prove the allegations of sexual assault to be false, but this claim is based on the fallacy that rape cannot occur when there is a child custody dispute going on. This simply is not true. Yet too often this type of claim is accepted as if it were proof of a false allegation.
Anger over a child custody dispute can be the motive for an estranged husband to rape his estranged wife. Yet so many rape denialists hope that nobody thinks about this motive.