Loss of Jurors Pushes Back Biddeford Sexual Abuse Trial
Julia Russell filed a civil complaint against Philip Chenevert back in July 2021. Julia attests that Chenevert had sexually abused her for two years when she was only six years old in 1992. As of Oct. 17, she now must wait another year to face her abuser in the U.S. District Court. Although the trial was set to begin in October, it was ultimately canceled due to losing jurors.
One juror called in unavailable for personal reasons, which brought the juror pool down to five. In addition, two other jurors were dismissed from the case shortly after. The U.S. District Court requires at least six jurors in a civil trial; thus, the trial had to be rescheduled to Jan. 23, 2023.
Meeting With the Media
In efforts to help other potential victims speak out against sexual abuse, Russell spoke to Portland Press Herald shortly after filing her complaint last spring. After having an article published detailing Russell’s story, at least two other women have come forward claiming they were also abused by Chenevert as children and were scheduled to testify. While Russell intended to help others, the media’s involvement in court cases can have negative repercussions.
Russell’s attorney, Taylor Asen, filed motions on Thursday to reexamine the jurors about “potential prejudicial pretrial publicity” in response to the press release involving Russell. Pretrial publicity can affect the jurors’ verdict decisions causing bias to impact their interpretations of trial evidence. Chenevert’s attorney argues that if another juror is lost due to the media coverage, the court should entertain sanctions against Russell to address Chenevert’s attorney fees, costs, and expenses resulting from jury selection implications.
How Should You Address Your Sexual Abuse Case?
If you have been sexually abused and are ready to share your story, the attorneys at Gideon Asen LLC are here for you. We will serve as your legal advocate and help you hold those responsible for your suffering accountable. Contact our experienced attorneys today for a free and confidential consultation.