In September 2000, Darrin Higgens was accused of sexually abusing his 16-year-old daughter and having sex with one of her 15-year-old friends. Police arrested Mr. Higgens and after reading him his Miranda rights, he signed a written statement attesting to the fact that he may have had sex with his daughter while drunk. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer reported that he was subsequently charged with 120 separate crimes, including multiple first degree sodomy charges, first degree rape charges and endangering the welfare of a child.
At the conclusion of Mr. Higgens’ trial, 88 of the 120 counts were submitted to the jury. He was convicted of two counts of third degree rape, incest, seven counts of endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of third degree sodomy. His criminal defense attorney filed a motion to set aside the verdict, which was denied. Mr. Higgens was sentenced to an aggregate term of 5 1/3 to 16 years. He subsequently appealed his conviction to the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division.
Mr. Higgens’ defense attorney argued that he was denied the right to confront his accuser and that counseling records indicated that the victim was disruptive and troubled. The defense also claimed that at the time the victim testified, she was taking medication which would lead her to appear more credible. The trial court refused to admit these records into evidence, arguing that the victim’s mental status was not at issue. The appellate court agreed with this decision.
A Queens Sex Crimes Lawyer explained that the court held that the testimony allowed at trial was sufficient to prove that the victim failed to report the abuse on prior occasions when she was receiving counseling. The trial court allowed the social workers who spoke with the girl to testify that they treated her, Mr. Higgens and the girl’s mother. Defense counsel took issue with the fact that the social workers never reported any crimes or suspected abuse. The appellate court held that the trial court did not err in preventing Mr. Higgens from confronting his accuser.
The appellate court also rejected Mr. Higgens’ claim that the trial court erroneously admitted evidence of prior crimes for which he was never charged involving his daughter and her friend as well as testimony concerning a history of suicide in Mr. Higgens’ family. Defense counsel claimed that the evidence essentially implied that Mr. Higgens was an out-of-control, manipulative individual who used drugs to commit inappropriate sex crimes against his own daughter and another minor. The appellate court argued that the evidence presented concerning eight prior uncharged sex crimes involving the victim and her underage friend was admissible as it was relevant to establishing the element of forcible compulsion and to shed light on the relationship between Mr. Higgens and his daughter. The evidence relating to a history of suicide in the family was also held to be relevant to the element of forcible compulsion since the victim testified that she complied with Mr. Higgens’ requests because he had threatened suicide if she did not. The appellate court found no abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court in allowing this evidence to be introduced.
Finally, the appellate court also rejected Mr. Higgens’ claim that the trial court committed an error in allow the prosecution’s expert to testify as a rebuttal witness regarding child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome. The expert offered only general testimony about the syndrome and did not attempt to offer any proof or speculation that the charged crimes had occurred. Again, the appellate court found that no error was committed on the part of the trial court in allowing the testimony. According to a Nassau County Sex Crimes Lawyer, the court chose to affirm Mr. Higgens’ original conviction.
While Mr. Higgens’ appeal was ultimately unsuccessful, his attorney did offer some interesting arguments to the court regarding his case. Rape, sexual abuse and sodomy are all serious crimes and no one should attempt to stand trial for these charges without the aid of skilled legal counsel.
If you or someone you love has been charged with a sex offense in the New York area, you need to contact the law firm of Stephen Bilkis and Associates today. Our team of criminal defense attorneys is committed to aggressively defending individuals who are on trial for sex crimes and inappropriate sexual acts involving minors. Call 1-800-NY-NY-LAW today to speak with a member of our staff or visit one of our New York area offices to discuss your case in person. Don’t let a sex offense conviction ruin your life. Call Stephen Bilkis and Associates now to get the experienced legal representation you need to protect your rights.