Ex-cop dies on sexual assault charge, prosecutors still seek justice for alleged victim

Vermont prosecutors are fighting to put on the public record the case of a former police officer accused of sexually assaulting a girl 30 years ago after a judge dismissed charges against her on Tuesday, following her death in December.

The Bennington County state attorney’s office filed charges against the now-deceased 80-year-old Leonard Forte for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in 1988. However, Superior Court Jude Corland Corson dismissed the charges against him, The Associated Press reported.

Under Vermont law, when a judge dismisses charges against a person, the case is automatically sealed and removed from official records within 60 days, unless the defense or prosecution does not object to sealing of records in the interest of justice, according to the state Bennington Banner.

Prosecutors asked the judge not to remove the case from the public record, saying that doing so would be a miscarriage of justice for the alleged victim, the AP said.

“Sealing or deleting records in these cases would be the ultimate miscarriage of justice in which the interests of justice have never been served,” said deputy state attorney Linda Purdy. Banner,

“The interests of justice must now apply to the victim, who was 12 years old when she was sexually assaulted, and 14 when she testified 33 years ago, and who again fought hard and long for her day in court.” fought,” was quoted by Purdy newspaper.

Fort, a former investigator with the New York Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, was charged with sexually assaulting and molesting a 12-year-old friend of his daughter at their family vacation home in Landgrove, Vermont, online news outlet Jacksonville.com reported. .

The Bennington County state attorney’s office in Vermont filed charges against the now-deceased 80-year-old Leonard Forte for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in 1988. Above, a judge’s gavel is pictured on a table.
zolnirek / iStock Plus / Getty Images

Fort was charged and convicted in 1988 on three counts of sexual assault. However, according to Jacksonville.com, a judge granted Forte a new trial, claiming that the female prosecutor had prejudiced the jury by being too emotional during the trial.

He was charged again in 1997, but Forte said he was unable to travel from Florida, where he lived, to Vermont for trial because of a heart condition, the AP reported.

However, Jacksonville.com reported that Forte never received a heart transplant, claiming he needed it before traveling, and yet still lived in Florida as a retiree. Courts ruled last year that he was fit to face trial, and that he was to be extradited back to Vermont to face charges.

Leonard Forte'S Charges Dismissed After Death
A Vermont judge dismissed sexual assault charges against Leonard Forte, pictured above, for the 1988 crime while he waited to be extradited to trial after he died at his Florida home. Prosecutors are fighting to keep the case a part of the public record rather than seal and expel the case under state law.
Hendry County Sheriff’s Office

While waiting to return to Vermont, Fort died at his Florida home on December 22 from sudden cardiac arrest due to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Banner, which obtained his death certificate.

In the motion, Purdy said the victim has been denied access to justice by waiting decades for Fort’s retrial.

“The Court in this case would amount to eviction for the permanent removal of any record, as if the victim had never reported, the defendant was never charged, and as if no trial had taken place resulting in The sentence was set aside—indeed as if the case had never existed,” the motion said, Banner,

According to the AP, a court hearing has been scheduled for March 14 for the state’s request to put the matter on public record.

Experts from the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) sexual assault hotline are available 24/7 via phone (1 (800) 656-4673) And online chat, Additional support from the group is also available through mobile app,

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