Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Ex-judge's molestation trial set

INVERNESS, Florida - Former county judge and current Inverness lawyer Gary Graham will face trial May 15 on charges that he molested two 10-year-old girls.

Graham faced three felony counts: one of sexual battery on a child younger than 12 and two of lewd and lascivious conduct.

If convicted, his lawyer said, he could face as much as life in prison.

Graham, 57, was in court Monday for a brief hearing in the case. Circuit Judge Ric Howard set the trial date.

Graham did not speak with reporters afterward. But his attorney, Stephen Romine, said he intended to take the case to trial.

"We've received no plea offers from the state, which is not unusual, and my client is facing life in prison," Romine said. "So we're prepared for trial."

He said the trial should take about a week.

The case against Graham involved sexual contact that allegedly occurred in December 2003, court records show.

Graham was accused of touching two 10-year-old girls. The girls told investigators that Graham slipped his hands down their pajamas one night and fondled them, records show. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Speaking in the lobby of the Citrus County Courthouse after the hearing Monday morning, Romine called the state's case weak. He said the state's case could collapse altogether.

"Look at the next two depositions that are coming out, and you can see what I mean," he said.

Previously, Romine pointed out that one of the girls had previously accused her grandfather of fondling her. That claim turned out to be unfounded, investigators said.

Also, the mother of one of the girls admitted lying to sheriff's deputies because she was angry with Graham.

During an interview with law officers, the mother, who is Graham's former girlfriend, never corrected investigators when they referred to the molestation happening in February 2004. But in a subsequent deposition, she said the molestation couldn't have occurred during that time.

Graham was arrested in late November 2004 after an investigation by the Citrus County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

He spent one night in jail before bail was set at $500 and he was released pending resolution of the case.


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