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Craig Mastantuono March 6, 2016

Friday afternoon brought an end to a jury trial that Rebecca and Craig conducted in Milwaukee County in a first degree sexual assault of a child case, in which our client was accused falsely of inappropriately touching his adoptive son, a special needs child with mental health isues and cognitive delays. The jury returned a not guilty verdict after 5 days of testimony, during which the defense challenged a biased and flawed investigation and manipulative interview tactics by state child forensic interviewers. Some memories from this very sad case:

Working long days and evenings preparing the case for trial.

Talking with the prospective jury panel about our client’s sexual orientation, homosexual, and our concerns that negative biases may affect his right to a fair jury. Then, during the selection process, watching the prosecutor strike panel members who spoke out against discrimination.

Cross-examining two state expert witnesses in the area of child forensic interviews and common dynamics among children who are sexually assaulted.

Challenging the forensic interviews in this case as not conforming to the generally accepted guidelines in the professional community of forensic child interviews, the so-called Step-Wise Guidelines, which use research-based best practices to avoid suggestibility when interviewing children.

Presenting expert witness testimony from a licensed clinical therapist on the issue of reactive attachment disorder, and its common symptoms and associated behaviors.

Cross examining the lead detective for the state on why he told our client that as a Christian he disapproved of homosexuals and believed that no one is born gay, that it’s a choice, and that our client made his own son gay. Presenting our client’s testimony as he took the witness stand for himself, and denied wrongdoing. Watching him cry with sadness and fear in the hallways of the Milwaukee County Safety Building as we awaited the jury’s verdict.

Receiving a not guilty verdict as our client sobbed with relief, and catching a nod and look of support from one of the jurors as she left the jury box.

Trials are always a challenge, and this one particularly so, but we believe justice was served, and that our client avoided being wrongfully convicted. We have deep faith in American juries, and are thankful for their service.