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Child sex-predator cases may be hurt,
Spota says, if Miss America
won’t return to LI to testify.
Newsday – Long Island, N.Y.
Date: May 1, 2007
Copyright Newsday Inc., 2007
Here she won’t be – Miss America.
The case against at least one – and probably more – of the 11 men arrested in Suffolk with the help of the
beauty queen and the television show “America’s Most Wanted” is in jeopardy because representatives
for Miss America 2007 Lauren Nelson have told prosecutors she won’t return to Long Island to testify,
said Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota.
Without Nelson available as a star witness,
every case she actively participated in during
the undercover police sex sting may be up in
the air, said Spota. He called the police operation
well- intended but “nothing more than
a publicity stunt.”
“Given the fact that we have now determined
that Miss America was actually speaking
to one of those arrested, I have instructed
prosecutors not to present any more cases
to the grand jury until we can determine her
involvement,” said Spota, who added that
police didn’t tell his offi ce about the April 20
operation until the afternoon before it went
Referring to one case that already has been
presented to a grand jury, Spota said, “That
case, in my view, could be compromised.”
Deer Park defense attorney John Powers said
Spota is likely referring to his client, Robert
Accomando of West Islip, whose case was
presented to a grand jury yesterday. Powers
Newsday – Long Island, N.Y.
Date: May 1, 2007
There’s more to being a witness in a case than showing up in
court for an hour or two and then leaving. It’s a long and involved
process that usually requires that person to be available during
the often lengthy prosecution of a case, attorneys said.
“The Constitution doesn’t contemplate celebrities who are busy
doing something else, because it doesn’t care,” said Rockville
Centre defense attorney and former Nassau prosecutor Gregory
Grizopoulos, who represents Thomas O’Brien, one of the 11 men
arrested in the Suffolk Internet sex sting with the help of Miss
America 2007 Lauren Nelson.
Grizopoulos said the fi rst obligation of a material witness such as
Nelson usually is to testify before a grand jury. After that, prosecutors
would likely stay in regular contact with the witness to prepare
her trial testimony, Grizopoulos said.
Grizopoulos said no amount of documentation of a witness’ participation
in an investigation can replace the value of having her on
the stand. “You’re entitled in the Constitution to be able to confront
a witness,” he said. “You can’t cross-examine a transcript.”