GREENFIELD — A convicted child molester accused of assaulting a young boy in a public restroom early this year has taken issue with news reports noting he is a sex offender and said such negative coverage should qualify him to have his trial moved out of Hancock County.
An attorney for David Paterson, who faces a felony charge of child molesting, has filed a motion asking Hancock County Superior Court 1 Judge Terry Snow to change the venue of his client’s trial, claiming residents in the area might be biased or prejudiced against him because of media reports of the case.
Bradley Keffer of Indianapolis, Paterson’s attorney, did not specify where he would prefer the case be heard. One of the media accounts he included as evidence is a nearly 20-page transcript of an episode of “Nancy Grace,” which would have been seen by viewers across the country.
Paterson was arrested in March after a 7-year-old boy said a man he didn’t know touched him inappropriately in the men’s restroom at Walmart in Greenfield, police said.
The boy told his mother and police that the man climbed into the stall he was using while they were alone in the restroom, according to court documents.
Security camera footage from inside Walmart shows Paterson shopping at the store before the incident, court documents state.
The man was already in the restroom when the boy entered and left the store immediately afterward, police said.
Police identified Paterson from the video, having dealt with him before.
Paterson pleaded guilty to child molestation in the summer of 2009 and has been registered as a sex offender since March 2010, according to court records. Investigators said they used Paterson’s sex offender profile to identify him in the security camera footage.
Paterson’s arrest was featured by several central Indiana news organizations, including the Daily Reporter. The story made national headlines and was recounted on the CNN Headline News program “Nancy Grace.”
Paterson’s lawyer provided the court with four examples of media coverage, including the story on “Nancy Grace” in which an investigator with the Greenfield Police Department was interviewed. He also listed two websites where his client’s picture was displayed, MugWatcher.com and YouTube.com.
Each sample referred to Paterson as a sex offender when discussing his previous conviction, making “reference to evidence that is highly prejudiced and would not otherwise be admissible at trial,” Keffer argues in the motion to move the trial.
Given the small size of Hancock County, it is “of paramount concern” that residents might have seen the coverage and formed opinions about Paterson, Keffer argues.
A hearing regarding the change of venue request is scheduled for Tuesday.
Paterson is charged with child molesting as a Level 4 felony, which carries a penalty of two to 12 years and up to $10,000 in fines.
Paterson was released from the Hancock County Jail a few days after his arrest on a $5,000 cash bond, court records state.