GREENFIELD — Defense attorneys for an Indianapolis man accused of molesting a young boy in a public restroom argue the child can’t be trusted to testify, saying he has changed his story during court proceedings and doesn’t understand the difference between a truth and a lie.
Bradley Keffer of Indianapolis, who represents David Paterson, has asked Hancock County Superior Court 1 Judge Terry Snow to conduct a competency hearing to determine if the victim could give an honest statement at trial. The hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 19.
David A. Paterson, 27, was charged with child molesting after a 7-year-old told investigators a stranger — later identified as Paterson — fondled him while they were alone in the restroom at the Greenfield Walmart early this year.Paterson, a convicted child molester, was identified in surveillance camera footage from the store, police said.
Keffer suggests in a written motion to the court that the 7-year-old victim gave misleading statements during a recent deposition — a closed proceeding in which key witnesses and victims answer questions and give statements before defense attorneys and prosecutors in preparation for trial.
Keffer cited the boy’s statement as part of the evidence in his request to the court.
The boy told the prosecutor and defense attorneys present at the deposition he did not know the difference between the truth and a lie, and he could not think of an example of a lie, court documents state. The boy couldn’t recall when his birthday was, and he gave a different description of his alleged attacker than what he originally told police seven months ago when the investigation began, the motion states.
Because the child is the accuser, his ability to give accurate testimony against Paterson in the proceedings is a matter of paramount importance, Keffer said in the motion.
“The competency of his testimony appears to fall below that which is constitutionally required, and — as the sole complaining eyewitness — the admission of his testimony would substantially prejudice the defendant,” the motion states.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Keiffner said he wasn’t concerned by the motion.
Paterson was arrested in March after the boy told his mother a man climbed into the stall he was using in the Walmart restroom, according to court documents.
Security camera footage from inside the store shows a man police identified as 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 in previous cases.
Paterson pleaded guilty to child molestation in summer 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.
Keffer has taken offense to news media calling Pateron a convicted child molester; he asked Snow in August to move the trial to an- other county. Snow denied the motion.
A competency hearing will delay proceedings. A jury trial has been rescheduled for January, according to court records.