Saturday, November 21, 2009

MA: Another hearing canceled in ex-Melrose Y staffer's abuse case

The third straight hearing in the child sexual abuse case against former Melrose YMCA staffer James Conner was canceled on Tuesday in Middlesex Superior Court, this time at the request of his lawyer.

"Probably the defense had scheduling concerns," said Jessica Venezia, a spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone.

Conner's attorney Alan Tuttman did not return a call.

Conner, 51, was arrested in February and later indicted on five counts of rape of a child by force, among other charges. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and posted $25,000 bail. Conner is under home confinement, but can leave for work, meetings with his attorney, or medical appointments, according to the case summary on file at the court. His trial is scheduled to begin on April 5.

Tuttman told the court on the day before a dismissal hearing in July that he wouldn't be filing a motion to drop the charges. Prosecutors canceled a pretrial hearing in October, most likely due to a scheduling conflict, Venezia said.

An evidentiary suppression hearing is scheduled for Dec. 16.

The state Department of Early Education and Care, which licenses after-school programs at nonprofit organizations, reported in April that YMCA administrators hired Conner despite knowing of allegations of impropriety at other facilities and warning signs at the Melrose Y. The agency said the Melrose Y had “failed to protect children from abuse.’’

Though the YMCA has disputed the report, it prompted three top executives to step down, including longtime president and CEO Richard Whitworth. Interim president Ralph Yohe took the reins in October.

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