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Mistrial in case of Hampton man charged with sexually assaulting 3 children

BRENTWOOD - A judge declared a mistrial for a Hampton man charged with sexually assaulting three children after determining that the state's Division of Children, Youth and Families may not have disclosed all records related to the alleged abuse.

Leonard Aldrich, 64, will remain behind bars at the Rockingham County jail while lawyers prepare for a new trial. Aldrich has been in custody since his arrest Jan. 29, 2012. He is accused of sexually assaulting two young girls and a boy, now age 7, between December 2010 and January 2012.

The new information about the records was discovered shortly before noon Wednesday during the second day of trial when two witnesses offered contradictory testimony, according to Judge Marguerite Wageling. Prosecutors argue that the girl's mother walked in on Aldrich as he was sexually assaulting the two girls - ages 6 and 2 - and promptly reported the matter to police. The mother testified she was alone at the time, but the boy testified earlier he was with his mother during the incident and provided details to the jury.

"She was clear in her testimony that she was not with (him)," Wageling said.

Police reports about the incident made no mention of the boy. Defense lawyer Patrick Fleming argued for a mistrial, which was initially denied by the judge. The contradiction in testimony prompted a discussion between Wageling and the lawyers during a break in the trial. A DCYF worker overheard that conversation and recalled a conversation she had with the mother on the same topic, revealing that there may be a record of it that was not previously handed over prior to the trial, Wageling said.

Such a record, or records - however minor they might be - could be used by the defense to impeach a witness, according to the judge.

Prior to the trial, Wageling said she reviewed scores of DCYF records to provide to the prosecution and defense as they prepared for trial. She said obtaining records from the state agency proved to be troublesome early on in the case.

"We had some difficultly with that issue earlier," she said. "The court will make every effort to get to the bottom of it."

No new trial date has been set. Lawyers will meet with Wageling March 29.


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