Carlos Stevenson Press Release
Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe announced today that on May 25, 2016, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed the decision of the Dukes County (Martha’s Vineyard) Superior Court dismissing the indictments of Carlos Stevenson, d/o/b 05/13/66, of 95 Mayflower Lane, Tisbury, MA. Mr. Stevenson was indicted by a Dukes County Grand Jury in 2014 for one count of Rape of a Child with Force and five counts of Indecent Assault and Battery on a Child Under 14.
District Attorney O’Keefe said “I felt the reasoning of the motion judge was seriously flawed and would unnecessarily visit additional trauma on victims of sexual assault.”
The Dukes County Grand Jury heard evidence that the defendant raped and sexually assaulted a child over multiple years. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the indictments in Superior Court arguing that the Commonwealth should be required to force the alleged victim to testify before the 23 person grand jury. Hon. Cornelius Moriarty, II, allowed the motion.
The Commonwealth appealed the judge’s dismissal to the Supreme Judicial Court. The Commonwealth argued that, consistent with long-standing Massachusetts jurisprudence, alleged victims of crime are not required to testify before the grand jury. A grand jury indictment may be based on hearsay testimony. In this case, the Commonwealth presented the testimony of the Tisbury detective who interviewed the alleged victim and was the lead investigator in the matter.
The Supreme Judicial Court, in an opinion written by Justice Robert Cordy, held that “[w]e have consistently and without notable exception held that ‘an indictment may be based solely on hearsay.’” The Court found no circumstances that would warrant the judge’s drastic dismissal of the valid indictments of Rape of a Child and Indecent Assault and Battery on a Child Under 14. The Court reasoned that this practice is not limited to sexual assault cases, but to any grand jury case. There was no dissenting opinion in this case.
The Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office acknowledges the briefs written in support of its brief by Assistant District Attorney Kevin Curtin of Norfolk District Attorney’s Office on behalf of every District Attorney’s Office in the Commonwealth, and the brief by Wendy Murphy, Esq., for Women’s and Children’s Advocacy Project at New England Law School
The appeal was handled by Chief of Appeals Elizabeth Sweeney and investigated by the Tisbury Police Department.