PLATTSBURGH — A Clinton County conviction in a sex case has been upheld by a state appeals court.

James Hunt, 31, was convicted in January 2000 of first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, second-degree aggravated sexual abuse, second-degree assault, third-degree sexual abuse and unlawfully dealing with a child.

According to the ruling by the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court, Hunt was indicted in 1999 for numerous crimes in connection with victims A, B and C.

He allegedly kissed victim A, a 14-year-old, for his own sexual gratification and provided her with marijuana and beer.

He was charged with sexually assaulting victim B, no age available, in a bathroom at a party in the City of Plattsburgh.

Victim C, no age available, said Hunt forced her to have sexual intercourse at a party at the same house in Plattsburgh.

At least one of the victims B or C was a college student at the time.

Judge Patrick McGill denied Hunt’s motion to have the three cases severed.

After the verdict, the judge denied a motion to set aside the verdict, which acquitted Hunt of all charges in connection with victim B.

He was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison. He was granted a resentencing, which also added five years of post-release supervision.



CASE SEVERANCE

The appeals court said the denial of the severance of the cases was proper because, although the incidents happened months apart, they fell under the same laws and could be tried as one case.

In addition, the justices noted, McGill distinguished between the charges and Hunt was acquitted of the charges in the victim B incident.



NO MISTRIAL

The appeals court said McGill was right in denying a mistrial when Hunt alleged the jurors were improperly influenced by an outside source.

It had been ruled that Hunt’s previous conviction for reckless driving could not be admitted in the trial. The widow of the man killed in the accident that resulted in the conviction allegedly told spectators that Hunt had killed her husband.

That and other actions by the widow prompted Hunt’s request for a mistrial.

However, McGill asked if the jurors had contact with anyone relating to the case, and none replied.

His curative instructions ensured Hunt was not prejudiced, the justices ruled.



MISCONDUCT

Hunt also claimed prosecutorial misconduct for statements made by the district attorney concerning rapists and Hunt’s credibility.

But the appeals court said these statements did not merit reversal or a new trial.

Hunt was released from Fishkill Correctional Facility on parole Aug. 23, 2006.



E-mail Sue Botsford at: botsford@westelcom.com

Recommended for you