ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A motion to dismiss rape charges against a counselor who works with young boys dealing with drug addiction has been granted.
The Justice Center was established as a state agency by Governor Andrew Cuomo to investigate abuses against children and people with special needs.
The agency has a special prosecutor, but in a ruling on Thursday by the Supreme Court Appellate Division, it has no authority to prosecute criminal cases. The state requires criminal prosecutors be elected into the position, but the special prosecutors in the Justice Center are appointed.
According to court documents, only the district attorney or the attorney general has that authority.
“They were founded with this idea that they would be a specialized prosecutor or responding to what was a very important need in the State of New York, a lot of abuse and neglect claims,” Attorney Lee Kindlon said. “But what was more concerning to defense attorneys and constitutional scholars was [that] you can’t just create state agencies and then they have their own prosecutors because, before you know it, the DMV, the environmental people, will say, now wait a minute. Now we get prosecutors.”
This is not the first time charges were dropped in a sex abuse case being prosecuted by the Justice Center.
In March 2017, a case alleging a former Albany teacher had sex with a student was also dropped for the same reason.
In regards to this most recent case the Justice Center said in a statement:
“At the core of our mission is preventing the abuse and neglect of vulnerable New Yorkers. History shows cases like these slipped through the cracks, which is the very reason the Justice Center was created. Current Justice Center cases are protected from this type of challenge and this decision has no impact on operations. We will not stop our fight to protect this vulnerable population from dangerous predators. That fight continues by appealing this decision.”
The Justice Center is now expected to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals.