Lawyer asks judge to dismiss child sex assault case stemming from thank-you letter
ELKHORN—A lawyer for a man accused of child sex assault is asking a Walworth County judge to dismiss the case because the criminal complaint is too broad for her client to adequately defend himself.
After a January 2016 school presentation on sexual assault and safe dating, a student tearfully read to her teacher a thank-you letter she wrote for the presenter, according to a criminal complaint filed in March.
The letter explained some of the teen's history in connection with an alleged assault from a man she knows.
Daryl J. Teska, 46, of West Bend is charged with sexual assault of a child younger than 13, child enticement, exposing genitals and a related charge for a series of incidents alleged to have occurred between 2001 and 2008.
The motion to dismiss, filed Sept. 11, points to legal precedent that says a defendant needs to be informed of the charges against him as well as the underlying facts of the alleged offense.
The motion also applies a seven-factor test that was applied in a 1984 case to determine whether a defendant has enough information to plead and prepare a defense.
The motion takes issue with the prosecution listing dates that span several years and giving the same dates for all four charges.
Teska's lawyer, Donna Kuchler, wrote the date span was not consistent with relevant facts—such as how the girl said one sexual assault happened in kindergarten or younger, yet the criminal charge for that incident spans several years beyond then.
If the assault occurred when the girl said it did, that means it would not have been later than 2004, according to the motion.
Additionally, Teska in May 2004 received an anonymous call that the girl was being molested, according to the motion. In a forensic interview, the girl said she had never been touched in an inappropriate manner.
“The deputy involved in that investigation stated that he saw no signs of abuse and did not believe (the girl) had been sexually abused,” the motion states.
Kuchler's motion said the complaint is “substantially deficient” and hinders Teska's ability to “develop witnesses, account for his whereabouts, and uncover factual evidence calling into question the allegations against him.”
Evidence that might exonerate the defendant has a greater chance of being lost, forgotten or corrupted by outside influences, the motion states.
Another factor to consider, Kuchler wrote, is that the complaint was issued nine to 14 years after the latest and earliest possible incidents.
Teska's lawyer also pointed out how Teska was frequently in jail between 2004 and 2007 and questioned how alleged crimes could have happened during that time.
“Is this large charging period done in order to require Mr. Teska to bring forth his prior criminal record and periods of incarceration, which would significantly prejudice a jury?” the motion asks.
“Is this because the State has reason to doubt the validity of the details in (the girl's) story and is attempting to smooth out those issues by artificially extending the time period of alleged conduct beyond what the facts reasonably indicate?”
The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Diane Donohoo, responded to Kuchler's motion by saying it was untimely. Challenges to the sufficiency of a criminal complaint must be made before a preliminary hearing, according to the response.
Donohoo also wrote that Teska waived the issue by not filing anything before he pleaded not guilty May 23.
Teska is scheduled for a motion hearing at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 1. Donohoo said in an email this hearing is on a motion to include other acts as evidence, and she expects the court to rule on the motion to dismiss sometime before then.
Teska is scheduled for a January jury trial with a final pretrial at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 9.