MODESTO -- A defense attorney has filed a motion to dismiss charges against a 68-year-old Coulterville man accused of sexually abusing three children in Stanislaus County, with some of the alleged acts occurring nearly five dec-ades ago when the defendant was 21.
Frank Carson argues that the charges against his client, Phinas Orby Hatton, are not within the statute of limitations. The incidents are alleged to have occurred from 1969 through 1990.
Superior Court Judge Linda McFadden on Monday scheduled Hatton to return to court Dec. 5 so she can hear arguments on the motion to dismiss.
Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager has said state legislation now allows prosecutors to file charges against a defendant accused of committing a sex crime against a minor, even if it's been more than a decade after the incident is claimed to have occurred. There must be independent evidence that corroborates the victim's allegation.
Hatton was arrested in May on suspicion of committing sexual acts on a girl younger than 14. Two other alleged victims since have come forward to investigators.
Hatton is a former Modesto police officer, according to city records. He worked for the department from 1966 until 1981, when he resigned, records show.
There is no indication that Hatton committed crimes with children he encountered while working as a police officer.
McFadden has appointed Carson to represent Hatton because the defendant doesn't have enough money to retain his legal services. Essentially, the court pays Carson, a private attorney, to defend Hatton instead of appointing a public defender.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2394.