The Michigan Supreme Court Has Agreed to New Trials in 2 Child Sexual Abuse Cases

August 1, 2019 Abuse and Neglect Attorney
A Judge's gavel, representing the Michigan State Supreme Court
The Michigan Supreme Court has decided that two men in Allegan County should have new trials.

Child sexual abuse, also called molestation, is one of the hardest accusations to defend against. Because it’s an emotional subject, and people are conditioned to believe the word of the victim and the cops providing testimony during the trial, it can be extremely difficult to get a fair trial. Anyone who is falsely accused is faced with a huge uphill battle, even if they’re completely innocent and never did anything bad to anyone! (There are more falsely accused people in prison than you’d believe!) But that’s what makes this new development in the Michigan Supreme Court so amazing!

The High Court has said that two Allegan County men need new trials!

The Michigan Supreme Court recently made a unanimous decision to grant two men from Allegan County new trials. Both Joshua Lee Thorpe and Brandon James Harbison were convicted on multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct for sexually abusing a child. According to the High Court, the experts’ testimonies played a significant role in the outcome of the trials because the juries were “likely swayed” by the testimony of expert witnesses who didn’t have access to all the facts.

Joshua Lee Thorpe’s case:

33-year-old Thorpe was convicted in 2016 on three counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim under the age of 13. According to the victim (then 8-years-old), Thorpe touched her genitals on two separate occasions in his home, and on his third attempt, made her touch his genitals. The victim is Thorpe’s step-daughter. He was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison, and while he appealed the jury’s decision, claiming the victim made inconsistent statements in her testimony, he lost the appeal.

Brandon James Harbison’s case:

25-year-old Harbison was convicted of several different sexual crimes against a victim under the age of 13. These charges included two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of accosting a child under 16 for immoral purposes. Harbison appealed his conviction twice, but the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld his conviction. 

The expert witnesses at both trials provided dubious testimony

The Michigan Supreme Court has requested that the Appeals Court review the testimony of Dr. N. Debra Simms, a board-certified pediatrician with a sub-speciality of “child abuse pediatrics.” According to Simms’ testimony, the victim in Harbison’s case didn’t have any physical signs of sexual abuse, but knew very specific details about the abuse. Simms told the jury she diagnosed the victim with “probable pediatric sexual abuse.” In Thorpe’s case the expert witness neither examined the alleged victim, nor was provided specific information about the case, but still told the jury that the victim’s behavior was consistent with typical behavior of child victims of sexual abuse.

Fighting against allegations of child abuse is extremely difficult!

As we mentioned before, it’s practically impossible to prove you’re innocent when someone is claiming that you’re guilty. Proving a negative takes a great deal of skill, and most people simply aren’t equipped to do it. Which is where we come in. Our skilled child abuse defense team has been helping people fight false allegations of child abuse, whether physical or sexual, for decades. If you’re facing false allegations of abuse or neglect, call 866 766 5245 immediately and get help. We’ve been doing this for many years and we’re very good at it.