Now that alleged misunderstandings between the Oneida County district attorney's office and the defense attorney for a Tomahawk man accused of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old Northwoods Community Elementary School (NCES) student last November have been cleared up, only one more hearing stands between now and the Sept. 4 start of a two-day jury trial in the case.
Andrew M. Morgan, defense counsel for Stavros Iliopoulos, 66, filed a motion July 29 seeking materials that were mentioned during previous court hearings before he was appointed to the case on May 9.
After hearing arguments on the motion Thursday morning, Judge Michael Bloom, ruled against Morgan on the majority of the points he raised.
The list of items Morgan was seeking included:
The full school videos and a written explanation for any gaps in the same, along with the source of this explanation.
All law enforcement reports, recordings and other information relating to these discussions, including those of the prosecutor.
The names and contact information of anyone discussed.
The report of the assistant district attorney Mary Sowinski's follow-up discussion with the Wisconsin State Crime Lab analyst on the matter of male DNA found on the alleged victim.
Full medical records for any SANE exam of the alleged victim or follow-up visits related to the incident, which the defense has not received although police reports say the child was taken for an exam.
Release of Department of Social Services records pertaining to the alleged victim.
The recording of a Stepwise or equivalent formal forensic interview of the alleged victim.
Iiopoulos was charged with first-degree sexual assault of a child, false imprisonment and child enticement on Nov. 21, 2018 after a NCES student claimed he intercepted her as she attempted to enter a restroom and touched her inappropriately in a janitor's closet.
Thursday's motion hearing was nearly canceled as Morgan had filed a request to adjourn it due to injuries he sustained in an accident Aug. 1, as well as the unavailability of the Greek interpreter the defense had requested. Iliopoulos is originally from Greece.
The hearing went on as scheduled when Bloom allowed Morgan and the operator to appear by phone. Iliopoulos appeared via video from the Oneida County jail where he has been held since his arrest, unable to post the $50,000 cash bond set in the case.
From the onset, it appeared that the interpreter would complicate the process, since breaks would have to be provided to allow the translator to translate what was being said in court to Iliopoulos and then translate any response from him back to the court.
In the end, Bloom decided that since the hearings was evidentiary in nature, the services of the interpreter wouldn't be needed. Both attorneys agreed.
Bloom also expressed concern that the trial may have to be rescheduled due to Morgan's injuries.
"We do have this matter on the calendar for a trial in this case scheduled to begin within 30 days of today's date," Bloom said. "And before we proceed any further, I need to put it to you straightforwardly, Mr. Morgan, does the circumstances, to include your recent injury, implicate the existing trial date?"
"I don't think it does at this point, your Honor," Morgan replied. "I note that we have a final pre-trial on Aug. 20, and I sincerely hope that as of that date I can give you a complete answer on whether I can be ready for trial as scheduled. I certainly, certainly hope so. I know Mr. Iliopoulos absolutely wants to go to trial on that date, and I'm going to do everything I can to make that happen."
The judge then went through the points in Morgan's motion.
When asked why there appeared to be gaps in the video recording, Sowinski offered an explanation.
"I explained to him in emails that I have sent that the videos are not edited, and I was happy to disclose as I did the previous defense counsel that I could put them in touch with the person responsible for the video system," Sowinski said. "He will explain why the time stamps are different and why there appear to be edited gaps, when in fact it is just a motion sensitive camera."
According to Sowinski, Iliopoulos' previous public defender, Elizabeth Svehlek, viewed the videos at NCES, and was able to view the area where the alleged attack took place and found that helpful to understanding the nature of the recording.
"I believe he (Morgan) has all the videos, it's just a matter of understanding what they are of," Sowinski said, adding she would be willing to take Morgan to NCES so he could better understand how the videos were made.
Morgan said he has copies of the video in question but would take up the ADA's offer to be shown the location of the alleged incident.
On the matter of all reports from law enforcement and Sowinski's prosecutor's notes, Bloom ruled that while most of what Morgan sought should have already been provided, Sowinski's notes were not subject to the discovery process.
Morgan then quoted a subsection of a state statute that he maintained would subject the prosecutor's notes to discovery. Sowinski said all notes of statements made to law enforcement and others had been made available to Morgan. She said the interview with the child was conducted using the Stepwise guidelines.
"The only thing I can offer is to have Mr. Morgan come here and sit with me at a computer and see if the videos I have are what he has," she said.
After reading the statute for himself, the judge disagreed with Morgan's interpretation and ruled the defense would not get the notes Sowinski had amassed since the case had been filed.
Discussion of the male DNA that was allegedly found on the alleged victim took up the bulk of the 45-minute hearing.
According to the motion, Sowinski questioned the crime lab analyst who wrote the initial report explaining the results of the lab's DNA analysis.
"On this point, the undersigned counsel asserts that based on the language of the original report that the results show the Crime Lab found male DNA on the person of the accusing minor, but merely assume based on the minor's word that it was the DNA of the defendant," Morgan wrote.
Bloom said he interpreted that the same way that Morgan did.
"That's not a true statement," Sowinski replied. "Mr. Morgan said something to me in passing that he found that (language) in the report concerning, so I contacted the analyst and talked to her about what Mr. Morgan thought was an 'assumed' connection to the male DNA and Mr. Iliopoulos. And I clarified with the analyst that there was no assumption. She has a sample from Mr. Iliopoulos and compared it to the DNA found on the victim, it was the same person. There was no assumption, it was not some random male DNA that was assumed to be from Mr. Iliopoulos."
After questioning Sowinski further, Bloom requested a copy of the report to review for himself. He then listed all of the samples that were provided to the State Crime Lab for testing.
Morgan then repeated the statute he previously cited and argued that Sowinski had to provide any summary of scientific tests provided by anyone such as the analyst that might be called as a witness at trial.
Bloom disagreed, ruling that Sowinski had already provided everything she is required to by turning over the test results to Morgan.
"You're going to have to direct me to any authority (state appellate or Supreme Court decision) that would require the state to turn over a written summary of the details of any discussion a prosecuting attorney may have had with an analyst from the crime lab," Bloom said.
Sowinski said she would be willing to sit down with Morgan and go over everything turned over in the discovery process and compare it to what she has to make sure he has been provided everything.
"We can do this in one day, if you like," she said.
Morgan continued to press that the report reads like the results were based on an assumption on the part of the analyst. Bloom said there isn't an assumption because the male DNA found on the child during the course of the SANE examination was compared to a cheek swab provided by Iliopoulos.
Since the analyst will be called to testify at trial, Morgan could challenge the matter during cross-examination, he added.
On the matter of the SANE exam, Sowinski said she thought all of that material had been turned over to the defense, but she would resend it to make sure he had it.
The matter of social services records was also explained by Sowinski. The Stepwise interview with the alleged victim was referred to as a "social services document" because the interview was conducted by a member of law enforcement along with a trained individual from the Department of Social Services.
Bloom then explained to Morgan that he sealed the document to control who has access to it and that no additional copies are made beyond what was needed by Sowinski and Morgan to prepare for the case. He reiterated that includes not giving a copy to Iliopoulos to keep in his cell.
Iliopoulos was working as a school custodian at the time of the alleged assault but was later fired by Victory Janitorial which has a contract with the School District of Rhinelander to clean school buildings.
According to the criminal complaint in the case, the girl told investigators she left her classroom to use the restroom when Iliopoulos approached her and asked for a hug. She declined and attempted to go back to her classroom, but Iliopoulos took her to a closet instead, she reported. In the closet, the girl said Iliopoulos hugged and kissed her and then began to touch her over and under her clothing. She said she tried to reach the door handle but Iliopoulos grabbed her arm and pushed it up against the wall. He eventually let her out of the closet with a warning not to tell anyone what happened, she reported.
Iliopoulos has denied the allegations, claiming that the child wanted to see the inside of the closet and he told her to get out.
If convicted, Iliopoulos faces up to life in prison.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at email@example.com.
The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC 232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361
Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121 Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce