Court throws out Cortland County man’s child porn conviction

ALBANY, N.Y. – A state appeals court has thrown out a 2012 child pornography conviction against a McGraw man.

Paul O’Neill was sentenced to 15 years in state prison in January 2012 after he pleaded guilty in Cortland County court to charges of use of a child in a sexual performance and sexual conduct against a child.

The ruling handed down by the state appeals court Thursday concluded that the crimes to which O’Neill pleaded guilty were not the same as those listed in the felony complaint, constituting a “jurisdictional defect.”

The crimes listed in the felony complaint were a class E felony of possessing a sexual performance by a child and two misdemeanors. The indictment charged O’Neill with class C and class B felonies.

“Accordingly…we are constrained to conclude that the guilty plea must be vacated and the matter remitted to County Court for further proceedings,” the ruling read.

O’Neill was originally charged with first-degree rape and aggravated sexual abuse in November 2011, according to Syracuse.com.

In an April 2014 decision, the appeals court ruled in favor of the prosecutors (O’Neill’s defense argued he was coerced into accepting a plea deal out of fear of federal prosecution, an argument the judge rejected).

You can read Thursday’s ruling in its entirety below:

Paul O’Neill decision by Peter Blanchard


 

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