Former Harvest Bible Chapel youth pastor wants case dismissed
A former Harvest Bible Chapel youth pastor is fighting to have a disorderly conduct case against him dismissed on the grounds that a retrial would violate his constitutional protection against double jeopardy.
Paxton D. Singer, 25, of Sugar Grove was acquitted of child exploitation of a minor after a bench trial before Kane County Judge Michael Noland, but he was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
Prosecutors argued Singer was grooming a teen he was supposed to mentor, sending him text messages from summer 2017 through December 2017 about having a sleepover at Singer's residence that were alarming and disturbing to the boy's parents.
Prosecutors pointed to Singer's messages about masturbation and asking to see the boy's underwear as evidence of child exploitation, but Noland ruled Singer did not try to entice the boy to remove his clothing.
Singer faced a sentence of up to 30 days in jail at a hearing in late November on the disorderly conduct charge. Defense attorney Terry Ekl argued that prosecutors had not proven disorderly conduct beyond a reasonable doubt and the verdict should be overturned.
Motions for a new trial are considered procedural and a necessary step for an appeal.
Noland granted the motion and ordered a new trial for Singer only on the disorderly conduct charge that the teen's parents were alarmed and disturbed.
Friday, attorneys for both sides were back in court and were given schedules to submit legal arguments to Noland. They will argue the matter Feb. 11.
When a new trial is ordered, usually it is from an appellate panel that cites an error at trial, such as improper testimony or an incorrect ruling from a judge. Because Noland ordered a new trial on the basis that prosecutors didn't prove Singer's guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt," Ekl believes this violates Singer's protection against double jeopardy and the case should be dismissed.
Singer is free on bail and was fired from his post in early 2018.