A high–profile sex abuse case involving a then 14–year old girl and a popular hockey coach and referee, that took eight years to bring before a grand jury, was thrown out late Friday by a Fairbanks Superior Court Judge.
News Center 11's Darryl Lewis has followed State of Alaska versus Tara Leighton since its beginning stages and filed this report:
THE 30–YEAR OLD LEIGHTON HAD FACED A POSSIBLE LIFE PRISON TERM ON FIVE COUNTS OF FIRST DEGREE SEXUAL ABUSE OF A MINOR...EACH UNCLASSIFIED FELONY CHARGE CARRYING A MAXIMUM 99–YEAR JAIL TERM.
HER ACCUSER, THEN 14–YEARS OF AGE, AND ONE OF LEIGHTON'S HOCKEY PLAYERS, FIRST BROUGHT ALLEGATIONS BACK IN 2004.
LEIGHTON WOULD BE INDICTED IN THE CASE EIGHT YEARS LATER IN JANUARY, 2012...CAUSING SHOCK AND OUTRAGE OVER A PERSON VERY WELL KNOWN IN THE INTERIOR'S EXTENSIVE HOCKEY COMMUNITY.
AND WHILE FRIDAY'S RULING EFFECTIVELY ENDED THE CASE FOR NOW, LEIGHTON'S ATTORNEY BILL SATTERBERG SAYS THE CASE NEVER SHOULD HAVE GONE TO A GRAND JURY.
SATTERBERG MENTIONED PRESSURE BEING BROUGHT ON AUTHORITIES TO PROSECUTE THE CASE.
THE ACCUSER'S PARENTS, FATHER A LONG–TIME CORRECTIONS OFFICER, MOTHER HAVING CLOSE TIES WITH MEMBERS OF THE STATE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE.
BUT DURING RECENT HEARINGS, AND TAKING THE WITNESS STAND, LINDA COLANG, MOTHER OF THE ACCUSER, SAYS NO PRESSURE WHATSOEVER WAS BROUGHT TO BEAR.
AND OF COURSE, WE HERE AT NEWS CENTER 11 WILL HAVE MORE ON THIS EVER DEVELOPING CASE....AS INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.