The prosecutor as well as the judge initially assigned to the Nickel case were different from those which would handle his case at trial. Presiding at Nickel’s pre-trial hearings was Judge Thomas Breslin; the prosecutor was Veronica Dumas.
Was Judge Breslin fair to Nickel? That’s something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, he did grant him bail, albeit under house arrest with electronic monitoring. On the other hand, when Nickel asked for permission to be able to conduct legal research at the only law library in the area, Albany Law School (which Nickel had been to several times before), Breslin replied that he could do so only if he told administrators at the library what he had been charged with, and got their permission.
This is troubling on several levels. For one, Breslin appears to have already assumed Nickel’s guilt, which is very problematic given that he was the person who would make such important pre-trial rulings such as the admissibility of Nickel’s alleged ‘statement,’ what the prosecution was obligated to disclose to the defense, and the like. Second, it seems to imply a belief on Breslin’s part that those charged with sexual crimes against children simply do not deserve the right to effectively assist in their own defense.
The fairness and professionalism of the prosecutor, Veronica Dumas, is even more open to question. The following are some of her comments and actions during the pre-trial hearings:
“The investigators were perusing some of these photographs or images that were downloaded and, lo and behold, one was this defendant having oral sex upon this little nine-year-old. The child testified to that in the grand jury, identified both of them. There have been since, I learned this morning, more photographs being identified.”
[Ms. Dumas knew, or should have known, that that photograph did not depict this child. (For one thing, whereas this alleged victim, “A”, has blue eyes, the boy in the photograph has brown eyes. See Photograph.) Moreover, her allegation that “more photos [were] being identified” was, also, simply false. Aside from that one photo, no others were ever produced which were even alleged to depict Nickel and any child in any sort of sexual situation.]
“Furthermore, Judge, nothing — no warning, nothing — will keep this defendant from, if he is out, getting on-line to warn his fellow pedophiles all over the country about his plight …”
[Even assuming this were true, what exactly, would be illegal about this?]
“If I were to show you [now addressing Nickel] approximately four letters that you had written to Chris Nugent and told you that not one of those letters, although discussing everything else about your case, did you say you were ever threatened, threatened or forced to sign any consent, or you were threatened with handcuffs, would it be accurate?”
[Though Dumas was the first person on the prosecution ‘side’ to dishonestly ‘cherry-pick’ from those letters, she would certainly not be the last. Just as Peter Torncello (the subsequent prosecutor), Richard Hotaling of the probation department, and Judge Karen Peters of the state appellate court (Third Dept.) would do, she conveniently ignored the numerous times where Nickel talks about the falseness of the charges against him:
"This is actually the most pressing issue right now, this photograph the prosecution claims is me and this boy having sex. Well, it isn't -- I've never had sex with any child." (from letter dated 9/16/00)
"[A]lleged sexual pictures of me and ["A"] are neither of me nor of ["A"] ... and the way they interviewed these kids was so sloppy, these detectives have confused and mixed up what each of the three boys have said." (from letter dated 10/17/00)
"The more they look at my case the more they must realize how weak the evidence against me really is. I know I didn't have sex with that (or any) boy ...
"I am declining their ridiculous 'plea offer' involving several years in jail for things I didn't do.
"I've never had any kind of sex with a boy." (from letter dated 11/16/00)
"The judge forced the prosecutor to release on disk the picture they claim is of me and ["A"] having sex. But of course it isn't, and our photo expert has now proven that conclusively. That's great of course, but the D.A. [at that time, Assistant D.A. Veronica Dumas] doesn't care. She says ["A"] identified it as him and me. This just shows how confused he is.
"They offered me this ridiculous 'plea bargain' based on something I didn't do ...
"My friend Cathy came over yesterday. She's a good person, a good Christian. I have told here there's some truth but mostly falseness to what I've been accused of.
"[I have been] sexually inactive for well over two years now ..." (from letter dated 12/5/00) (All emphases are original.)]
[As the original prosecutor in this case, Dumas was the person who was initially responsible for concealing both the police-taken interior photos of Nickel’s home, which showed beyond any doubt that “A” was wrong about each and every verifiable detail surrounding the alleged acts about which he testified, as well as the medical examination report. See Buried Evidence.]
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