Judge to let 1 'uncharged victim' testify at Harvest pastor's sexual-exploitation trial
One "uncharged victim" will be allowed to testify about texts and Snapchat messages prosecutors say he received from a Sugar Grove man who is accused of sexually exploiting another teenager.
But Kane County Circuit Judge Michael Noland denied a request Friday to let another uncharged victim testify against Paxton Singer, 24, a former youth minister at Harvest Bible Chapel.
Both the teens are identified in court documents only by their initials. No criminal charges have been filed regarding either youth's allegations.
Singer is charged with sexual exploitation of a child by asking a boy, at least 13 years old but younger than 17, via text messages, to send him pictures of himself shirtless, to spend a weekend with Singer, and about the boy's sexual habits, for Singer's sexual arousal or gratification, according to court documents.
Noland ruled Friday that the texts to another boy, then 16, asking him to send pictures of himself in his underwear, were similar enough to those sent to the victim in the court case that his testimony could be relevant to showing Singer's intent.
But the second uncharged victim was 17 at the time he received texts from Singer, which, under the law, meant he was not a child, according to Noland. The judge also said Singer's requests to that teen -- to send pictures of himself shirtless showing his abdominal muscles and tan, and sexually oriented questions -- were not sufficiently similar.
Defense attorney Kevin Halvorsen reiterated his opposition to letting the uncharged victim testify, saying the state has not given him any documentation as to where and when the texting took place.
Assistant State's Attorney Lori Schmidt said she recently subpoenaed AT&T for information about Singer's cellphone, including subscriber information and a record of texts. AT&T has to respond by Aug. 29.
Singer's trial is scheduled for Sept. 4, 5 and 9. When Noland suggested the trial may be delayed to give the defense time to examine the AT&T records, Halvorsen protested. He noted Singer was charged in October and scheduled to have a trial in July, until the state submitted a request in early July to let the uncharged victims testify.
"The state is investigating something (the phone records) that they should have investigated a long time ago," Halvorsen said.
Noland noted, however, that Singer has not filed a demand for a speedy trial. When a defendant who is free on bail, as Singer is, and demands a speedy trial, the state has 160 days to try the charges, unless the defense agrees to a continuance.