Legal details could imperil prosecution of abuse case

Proper documentation of Macedo's age at issue

April 27, 2004|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

The second case against Jose Anibal Macedo, the Ellicott City ballet teacher accused of sexually molesting three students, stalled yesterday afternoon over legal questions that could potentially derail the prosecution.

With all witness testimony presented in a single day, lawyers haggled yesterday afternoon over a key point: whether proof of Macedo's age - he is now 42 - had been adequately offered into evidence during the prosecution's case.

The point is important, lawyers said. Three of the charges require that Macedo be at least four years older than his alleged victim, a 15-year-old girl who said she was 11 and 12 when her ballet instructor touched her under her leotard and tights during her private lessons at his Baltimore National Pike dance studio, Advance Dance Academy.

Macedo's lawyer, Thomas P. Bernier, also argued that if his client is acquitted of those three counts, all pertaining to a third-degree sexual offense, then he should also be acquitted of child abuse.

Prosecutor Mary Murphy disagreed, saying the outcome of one charge should not determine the outcome of the other.

Howard Circuit Judge James B. Dudley, who is trying the case instead of a jury, asked the lawyers to research the questions and said he would rule on the issues next week.

The questions came at the end of a day that featured tearful, muffled testimony from the teen, who said Macedo improperly touched her in April and May 2001 at his dance studio, which has since closed.

"I didn't do anything because I was too young, and I didn't know what was going on," the girl testified.

A few hours later, Macedo denied ever inappropriately touching the girl.

"No, I did not," he said from the witness stand three times in response to questions from Bernier.

Macedo, of the 1100 block of Taylor Ave. in Halethorpe, is serving a six-year prison sentence for attempted rape and related convictions in the first case. A third case is scheduled for trial May 24.

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