TROY — Holding their feet to the fire. CBS6 News is not dropping the story of a botched rape case out of Rensselaer County, and we’re taking your concerns to the experts to find out how felony rape charges could be dropped because of a paperwork error.
John Halacy, 24, faces misdemeanor charges, but they’re less severe than the original rape charges. He is free tonight because someone didn’t file a speedy trial rights waiver in the Rensselaer County District Attorney’s office. DA Rich McNally pointed to Laura Kruegler as the one who “dropped the ball,” but plenty of people still want to know how, and if she’s truly the one to blame.
“It’s the kind of charge that should be decided by a jury in our community,” said Albany Law professor Laurie Shanks.
Halacy’s rape case has been a subject of conversation in Shanks’ classes. They’ve talked about the accused rapist’s arrest and incarceration, how he escaped the most serious trouble on a technicality, and what the Rensselaer County District Attorney’s office might have done to let it happen.
“They have to play by the rules and one of the rules is you can’t just leave someone to rot in jail,” Shanks said. “You have six months to bring it to a grand jury to make sure that the rules are followed, and they didn’t do that.”
“When you have 300 or 400 other cases you’re dealing with, 90 days or six months flies by,” said former Albany County ADA Lincy Jacob, now a Tully Rinckey criminal defense attorney.
Jacob says the original charges against Halacy are shocking and disturbing: the accused sexual abuse of two teenage girls. She says that work load can make missing a paperwork deadline easy. But if ADA Kruegler was out of the office, perhaps someone could have attended to it.
“As long as the office was up and running, they need to find someone to fill that prosecutor’s place,” Jacob said.
When asked if the District Attorney’s office as a whole as culpable as the ADA, Shanks said, “absolutely. The District Attorney is culpable. It was his responsibility if someone in your office is sick or on vacation — just as any one of us. “Whoever our bosses are its their responsibility to ensure that the work gets done.”