O'Brien child abuse case put on hold
ELKHORN - The case against a Lake Geneva couple facing felony charges of abusing their adopted Russian children is on hold.
Walworth County Judge James Carlson on Wednesday granted a defense motion to halt the proceedings pending a decision by the District 2 Court of Appeals, which could take months.
Kathleen O’Brien, 50, and her 50-year-old husband Martin O’Brien, are charged with multiple counts of felony child abuse and misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
The charges relate to abuses to adopted Russian children.
The O’Briens appealed a ruling that the defense could not compel one of the children to testify at the preliminary hearing.
During a hearing Wednesday, Carlson ruled on several motions challenging the 17-count complaint and information. The defense argued that the charges are vague as to when the charged crimes occurred and that the statute of limitations has expired on the misdemeanor charges.
Carlson said he had a problem with some of the timeframes. Prosecutor Diane Donohoo said she would file clarifying charges. Carlson dismissed three counts, but gave Donohoo an opportunity to correct any deficiencies.
Donohoo cited case law that gives prosecutors some leeway in cases involving child victims. “We are dealing with young children, ongoing abuse and some of the children have been home schooled and isolated,” Donohoo said. “They simply can’t give us exact dates.”