An Alaska judge has ruled that in order for the case against former female hockey coach Tara Leighton to go to trial, the state must re-indict her on the charges of sexually abusing a girl eight years ago.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that state Superior Court Judge Randy Olson’s opinion sides with defense attorney Bill Satterberg, whose motion claimed a grand jury was given improper instruction in considering the allegations.
The News-Miner reports the judge "didn’t dismiss the charges against Tara Leighton, 30, who was charged with five counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, but he said the Fairbanks district attorney’s office must convene a new grand jury and indict Leighton again if it wants to put her on trial."
Leighton is accused of abusing a member of a girls hockey team she coached. The abuse allegedly happened eight years ago, but it was not reported until 2008.
The ruling is significant because it sets a precedent, Satterberg told the News-Miner:
He basically said the entire system used to indict in felonies is inappropriate. Every pending felony should have a motion filed as a result of this. The way I read it, he’s dismissed it, but the state can re-indict. It’s not like the case is over or the charges have been dropped but certainly the case has been dismissed at this time subject to re-indictment.
Leighton’s trial is scheduled for Dec. 10. It will only go ahead if the state indicts her again. Read more at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.