The Trial

Did he get a fair trial? Did he "do it"?

On May 18th, 2001, after a two-day non-jury ("bench") trial held in Albany, New York, Jeffrey Nickel was found guilty by Judge Paul Czajka, after just two minutes of "deliberation," of four felony counts relating to child molestation involving two alleged victims.

Three of these counts related to Arthur, [name changed for confidentiality] who was nine years old at the time of the alleged crimes, and ten years old at the time of trial.  Of the four counts, the two most serious counts — which we will focus on here — also concerned Arthur. Nickel was convicted of these two crimes despite the fact that:
  1. Arthur changed his stories as to where these incidents supposedly took place.
  2. Though he testified at trial that one of them happened in the bedroom of Nickel's home, Arthur was nevertheless wrong about every interior and exterior detail he provided regarding the house.
Central to the case was a sexual photograph that "A" claimed depicted himself and Nickel in the latter's bedroom. And yet, photos taken by the police themselves, which the prosecution tried to hide -- as was also true of other buried evidence -- showed that the sexual photograph could not possibly have been taken in that bedroom. Moreover, whereas Arthur has blue eyes, the boy in the image has brown eyes. Also, a forensic photography expert found that the adult depicted was, in fact, not Nickel either.

"Put the role of law enforcement to serve justice, protect the society, and punish the guilty together with the consensus that sexual abuse is the most heinous of crimes and the dogmas that 'children cannot lie about sexual abuse, cannot talk about things they have not experienced' and the other myths that are bruited about regarding sexual abuse ... The outcome is that, of course, everybody knows that when people are accused they are guilty. When they are clearly guilty, the higher justice demands that the end justify the means. Judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement have the moral obligation to do whatever is necessary to convict the guilty pervert because it serves their private beliefs about the higher good. It becomes a noble act to 'cheat elite' and obtain a guilty verdict no matter how it is done. This opens the door to all manner of rationalizations, justifications and certainty that it is virtuous to do whatever must be done to win."
— from Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse, by Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager, 1988, pg. 130

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