SECT ABUSE CHARGE DISMISSED
Published: June 13, 1985
MONTPELIER, Vt., June 12— Vermont’s last child abuse charge against a member of the Northeast Kingdom Community Church was thrown out of court today, five days before it was scheduled to go to trial.
Acting Judge F. Ray Keyser of St. Johnsbury District Court ruled that the charges against an elder of the sect, Charles Wiseman, should be dismissed because he had not received a speedy trial.
Mr. Wiseman had been accused of assault in connection with what the authorities said was an intermittent beating he administered over seven hours to a 13-year-old girl who was a member of the church. Mr. Wiseman was first charged in the case 23 months ago.
The charge against Mr. Wiseman stemmed in part from the state authorities’ raid nearly a year ago on the 450-member sect. The authorities rounded up 112 children whose parents were members of the church in an attempt to check them for signs of abuse. However, a judge turned back the effort, saying the raid was ”grossly illegal.”
Mr. Wiseman’s lawyer, Jean Swantko, a public defender, said she was thrilled. She had filed five separate motions to dismiss the case after a hearing last week.
William Gray, the state’s special prosecutor in the case, declined comment until he examined the decision. He met late this afternoon with Attorney General Jeffrey Amestoy.
Judge Keyser, in his decision, said: ”For almost two years the defendant has experienced a financial and emotional disruption of his personal life. The defendant has received both written and oral threats to his life. His profession as a preacher has been harmed because the publicity surrounding this charge has evoked great hatred and hostility directed toward him.”