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Police accuse St. Louis County man of decades-old sexual abuse

Police say that a St. Louis, Missouri, area man committed sexual abuse against a school-age child more than two decades ago. The man, now 83, was arrested and charged with five counts of sodomy. According to police, the alleged victim, who was between the ages of 5 and 9 at the time the alleged abuse occurred, made a report to investigators in December. Authorities said that the alleged sex offenses happened between 1987 and 1991, when the man's wife had been the boy's babysitter.

Charges were filed after the police spoke to the alleged perpetrator and collected other evidence. His bail was set at $100,000.

According to police records, the alleged perpetrator was convicted of first degree sexual abuse 21 years ago. In 2003, he was also convicted of sexual misconduct involving display of a deadly weapon, and the man is listed on the Missouri Sex Offender Registry.

It can be very difficult to get a conviction for events that occurred so long ago. Memories fade, physical evidence disappears and potential eyewitnesses may no longer be available. Jurors may decide that a person who waited over 20 years to report sexual abuse is not a believable witness. Prosecutors may have their work cut out for them in this case.

Prior convictions for sexual misconduct or sexual assault do not mean that that a person is automatically guilty of any alleged sex offense. Like all criminal defendants, those accused of criminal sexual conduct are innocent until proven guilty. By obtaining experienced and aggressive legal representation early, those accused of sex abuse protect their rights and increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "83-year-old St. Louis County man charged in sexual abuse case," Christine Byers, May 1, 2012

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